Answered By: Bethany Marston, Learning Services Coordinator Last Updated: Jun 18, 2019 Views: 112
It can be hard to find time and relax when life gets crazy with work, school, and family. Technology is always at our fingertips and there are great apps available to help refresh and unwind even if you only have 5 minutes. Games and coloring are a fun way to relax and relieve stress. There are also apps that help with breathing, mindfulness, and meditation as well as exercise routines such as yoga.
If stress ever gets to be too much:
- Reach out to your Student Advisor, a doctor or therapist, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- You can also visit 211.org
Before attempting stress reduction techniques, it is important to recognize stress indicators. Here are some stress indicators:
- Sore or tense muscles
- Cramping or aching pains in your stomach
- Clenched hands or jaw
- Shallowed breathing
Once stress indicators are recognized, try to identify your stress response
- If easily angered, agitated, or emotional, stress relief activities will work best to reduce stress.
- If depressed, withdrawn, or “spacing out” stimulating and energizing stress techniques will work best
Here are a few apps that others find helpful:
Breethe- This app helps with sleep and meditation along with other ways to promote health and wellness and productivity. There are hours of soothing music, bedtime stories and mediations to help fall asleep, 100’s of guided meditations, breathing exercises, nature sounds and videos to calm down on the go, alarm clock with gentle tracks. This app is free however very limited unless you get a membership. Download to check it out and if you like the free exercises, it is worth the membership!
Oak- This app is great for those who suffer from anxiety or stress daily. It includes meditation and sleep exercises and promotes mindfulness. There are also relaxing sounds and guided breathing exercises designed to help with sleep and relaxation. Another cool feature is that Oak sends you an inspirational quote every day! This one is free.
Headspace- Headspace is a great app for those who are short on time. This app offers short two-three-minute meditations that you can do just about anywhere. Headspace focuses on living a happier and healthier life by becoming less distracted and more focused, and more mindful. There are also sleep exercises. If you are a meditation newbie, they offer a free basic course through the app to get you started. There are also guided meditations for kids! How cool is that? Membership costs $12.99 a month or $94.99 a year. (This app is also the ‘Editor’s Choice’ in the Apple store).
Pigment- Adult coloring is all the rage these days and with the help of your devices, you can color anywhere and everywhere. There are a lot of coloring apps to choose from but I really liked Pigment. Every day, you get a free page to color, which is perfect for those who only have a limited amount of time during the day to get creative. This app also features in app purchases if you want to color more or choose your own pictures.
Motivational Quotes- This app helps those who just need that little bit of motivation and inspiration to get through the day. Motivation offers a collection of hundreds of quotes that you can browse and share with friends and family on social media. There are quotes to help with depression, life lessons, love quotes, motivational quotes, verses from the Bible, and more. This app is free but offers a premium membership for more feature’s ad free enjoyment.
Yoga Workout- It has been proven time and time again that exercise helps reduce stress, but sometimes we don’t have time to exercise as much as we would like. Workout apps such as Yoga Workout are a great option. Yoga Workout is completely free and includes challenges, expert instruction and lessons, and even workouts you can do in bed! Namaste!
Games- It should be no surprise to most of you that game apps are great for stress relief. Here are some great ones to get you started: Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Spill It, Zen Koi, Office Jerk, Criminal Case, and Wordscapes. For more ideas check out the list here: https://www.thecollegejuice.com/2018/10/9-mindless-games-to-play-for-stress-relief/
Techniques specifically for college students:
- Eat well- A unhealthy diet will increase stress levels. Good nutrition fights against stress.
- Exercise- Exercising produces positive endorphins which can help reduce stress and improve
- Make an outlet- The most important time to take a break is when you don’t think you need to. Finding a positive outlet can help release tension of everyday stressors.
- Build a support system- Surrounding yourself with positive people can create a strong support system. A strong support system is essential to creating a positive and sound perspective and can offer encouragement when needed.
- Make a plan- By scheduling and organizing your obligations each week, you can plan for free time accordingly. Sticking to a schedule will lessen the amount of time spent each day on current obligations and decrease stressors. No more “I don’t have time for this.”
- Think positive- Positive thoughts can create your reality. Turn negative thoughts such as “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never get this right” to “I can do this” or “I will always put forth my best effort and overcome any challenge.”
- Meditate- Something as simple as creating your own mantra can have tremendous results. Practice deep breathing, guided imagery, and repeating a mantra to reduce stress.
- Aromatherapy- Essential oils such as lavender, lemon, and jasmine have been shown to reduce stress. Aromatherapy can also reduce anxiety while improving “Physical and emotional well-being” ("The College," 2018).
- Journal- Journaling one’s thoughts and feelings can help process the roller coaster of life. Journaling can help deal with everyday stress as well as decrease asthma or arthritis symptoms.
Universal stress reduction techniques:
- Breath Focus- While focusing on your breathing, take long but slow deep breaths. This stress technique will disconnect your brain from any distractions. This technique may be known to some as belly breathing.
- Body Scan- This technique includes breath focus. Continue to take long but slow deep breaths and change your brains focus to a certain part of your body, preferably where you feel tension. This technique will help your brain realize a mind and body connection.
- Guided Imagery- This technique uses a calming scene, place, or memory to help you relax. The key is to pick an imagery that has significant value and picture it in your mind. This helps create a positive vision of one’s self.
- Autogenic relaxation- Use both imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. Repeat positive words or phrases in your mind while relaxing your body one body part at a time.
- Progressive muscle relaxation- Use your muscles as a stress reliever. Tighten and then relax each muscle at a time. Use 5-30 second intervals. Tense muscles for 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds before repeating.
- Use your senses to calm yourself. Sight, smell, touch, taste, movement, or sound.
- Take a break from technology
- Get in the habit of making stress relief a routine.
The college students guide to stress management. (2018). Retrieved from Purdue
Global University website: https://www.purdueglobal.edu/blog/student-life/
Corliss, J. (2016). Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Retrieved from
Harvard Health Publishing website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/
Segal, J., Smith, M., & Robinson, L. (2018). Quick stress relief. Retrieved from
HelpGuide website: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/
Stress management. (2017). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website: