Studying for exams and writing endless papers can lead several college students to extreme levels of stress. When the chance for a study break comes up, the most common way students get their minds off of school work is by turning on their favorite Netflix shows or movies.

There are several other things students can do to take their minds off academics, even in ways one wouldn’t expect.

Here are 5 surprising stress relievers that can make all the difference:

Exercise
Even though exercise is usually geared toward the physical benefits, “mental fitness” is vital for reducing stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising regularly can increase self-confidence, improve sleep, and relax you. Studies also show that exercise can allow the brain to improve alertness and concentration and it stands to reason that improving the body’s well-being also improves the mind’s. Exercise pumps your endorphins, your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters, and following a day filled with long classes and a heavy workload, exercise can allow you to forget about all the of irritations inside your head. At St Joe’s, students have access to O’Pake Recreation Center, located on the Merion side of campus. It is open Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Wear a Rubberband Around Your Wrist
Another unfamiliar way of gearing away from stress is similar to training a dog; you can actually train yourself to feel stressed less often by wearing a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you are feeling stressed, in the library, in class, or at any moment, lightly snap the rubber band around your arm and as time goes on, you will theoretically associate feelings of stress with that pinch, and you may subconsciously aim to avoid the feeling. Although it sounds crazy and seems like a stretch to be effective, there is logic behind it. BF Skinner describes it as operant conditioning; “learning through the consequences of one’s own actions and behaviors and uses the principles of positive and negative reinforcement and punishment to influence learning and future behaviors.” A slight pinch from a small snap of a rubber band can possibly reduce current and future stress.

Switch Brain Hemispheres
Different sides of the brain are used for different activities. The left side is categorized with logic and analytics while the right side deals with more creative, intuitive and thoughtful thinking. Stephen Wilson of University College London told Live Science “Brain asymmetry is essential for proper brain function.” With this knowledge in mind, at any given moment one can reduce stress by switching to an activity that uses the hemisphere of the brain that is not causing stress. It’s as easy as stepping away from the science textbook for 20 minutes to reorganize your room or draw a picture.

Drink Orange Juice
Orange juice is well known for their wealth of vitamin C and studies show that this vitamin can in fact reduce levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. Researchers at the University of Alabama, found that vitamin C significantly decreased the level of stress hormones in laboratory rats; it lessened their typical signs of physical and emotional stress. If it works on these rats, there’s no reason why it can’t work on people too.

Mindfully Wash the Dishes
When one is thinking of ways to reduce their level of stress, washing the dishes would not normally come to mind. Researches at Florida State University used a group of 51 students to discover that by focusing on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water and the feel of the dishes, a decrease in stress level by 27 percent occurs. This is most likely true of any repetitive daily activity that contains a dose of mindfulness. Aside from the relief of getting some chores done, dishwashing can relax you and get your mind off of the things you’re worried about.

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