nature and dog

Pause to enjoy your surroundings . . .

As we came out of a long Labor Day weekend, I reflected on the importance of rest and relaxation to a balanced, healthy individual. That includes the often-frazzled, sleep-deprived college student.

The fall semester’s just begun, but soon students everywhere will feel the pressure of an increasingly difficult workload, and they’ll seek outlets for their stress. Naturally, not all such outlets are healthy or advisable; and while I’m not a doctor, I do think it behooves students to keep, up their sleeves, a few healthy ways to relax . . .

*First, familiarize yourself with the campus counseling center in case you ever need it. I’ve referred to counselors a number of my own students who’ve told me, mid-semester, about hectic and stressful lives, traumatic situations and sudden personal loss. Students should keep in mind that generally they have access to professional help in these kinds of cases. Some colleges’ counseling centers may have companion websites, as well, addressing topics of concern.

*Try exercise. Working out always seems to help let off steam. So many campuses are so lovely, I’d suggest starting with a nice walk. Then, consider taking a fitness class of your choice, or as the weather cools, take advantage of the gym.

*Unplug. A 2010 study at the University of Maryland found college students who “unplugged” from their gadgets for just 24 hours experienced significant anxiety. I don’t have trouble believing this, and I find it hard to see how such a so-called (or maybe bona fide) “addiction” is healthy. (Are addictions ever healthy?)

Scents of addiction aside, though, consider that your time spent, say, texting and checking Facebook may seem to be joyful; but time spent on those tasks is taken away from something else that probably needs to be done, such as studying – and that does end up causing stress.

So to unwind, “hang up,” so to speak. Take a walk sans headphones or cell phone; notice your surroundings; people have written very good poems on birds, you know, and that composition had to start with observation. Be present in the world beyond the world of the machine.

*Search for relaxation advice. You can find other ways to relax on the web – one place with good tips is the “Stress Help Center” from Or if you’re still in your unplugged mode, go to the library and check out a relevant book.

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