‘Just relax.’ Two words you never want to hear when you feel stressed. It’s right up there with ‘Have you tried switching it off and on again?’ as the most annoying advice imaginable.
If you knew how to relax, you’d have done it by now.
But your room should be your sanctuary, not a place to worry.
So what can you do to unwind when you feel stressed?
Try any one of these 45 things...1. Tidy up
Switch off the ‘big’ light. Buy a bedside lamp and get a low-watt, energy-saving bulb for it. Scatter some LED tea lights around. Your room will feel softer and more calming.3. Cover the TV
Your TV can remind you of the noise and distraction outside even when it’s turned off. Throw a nice scarf or lightweight blanket over the screen to help you fully switch off.4. Do some colouring-in
Colourers swear by its therapeutic and mindfulness benefits. Concentrating on one manageable task, followed by a sense of completion and achievement. Sounds lovely.5. Keep a diary
Transfer your thoughts onto paper to feel a sense of release, of letting go, of clearing and cleansing. Writing also feels like speaking, and that’s almost always a good stress-buster.
If you don’t feel comfortable keeping a diary, why not write a letter? It’s a great way to keep yourself busy, keep in touch with old friends, and keep you off your phone for a while.7. Breathe deeply
Lie down. Breathe in for 5 seconds, and out for 5 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes. Make this a part of your daily routine so you can exhale any stress you feel each day.8. Meditate
Meditation isn’t just for mystics and gurus. Anybody can relieve their anxiety with easy meditation techniques. Try the free Headspace app, online or on your mobile.9. Work out
Exercise gives you a task to focus on, distracting you from the source of stress. It releases feel-good chemicals, and boosts confidence.10. Roll the tension away
The signs of stress aren’t just mental – painful, tense muscles are a classic physical symptom. Try a few simple exercises with a foam roller to smooth out the knots and sleep better.
11. Eat dark chocolate
The magnesium in dark chocolate can stop your body releasing cortisol – the hormone that makes you feel stresses. Keep a bar in the cupboard, have a square to lift your spirits.
12. Do your laundry
If mess causes stress, dirt disconcerts. If your environment is unclean, you could feel unsettled because of it. Get your laundry done first, then give the surfaces a going over.
13. Squeeze a stress ball
Another great way to relax is to divert your attention away from what’s stressing you out and towards a simple, repetitive manual task. Pick one up free at your next careers fair.
14. Choose muted tones
Create a calming colour scheme with bedding, throws, rugs and cushions. Soft grey, icy blue, lavender and sage green are soothing, natural colours. Avoid anything too bold or striking.
15. Coordinate colour and pattern
Once you’ve chosen your colour, find furnishings that use that colour in different patterns and textures. The harmony you create will be ordered, in a relaxing way.
16. Make your bed
Complete it, and ride a wave of achievement all day. You might even feel happier and more productive – and your room will look tidier.
17. Do the dishes
Another brilliantly-simple mindfulness task, and proven to help students unwind. Focus intently and only on washing, free of the thoughts that were making you anxious.
18. Walk a dog
19. Get a sleep spray
If the colour lavender isn’t calming for you, the scent might be. The aroma of lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety. Try a lavender-scented sleep spray on your pillow.
20. Talk to a mate
Don’t feel like you can call home? Knock on a friend’s door and invite them in for tea. You might find they’re feeling a bit stressed too, and the two of you can help each other.
21. Play video games
As any gamer knows, there are few more effective forms of escapism. But did you know that answering the Call of Duty can help you recover from stress?
22. Drink herbal tea
Try peppermint to soothe your muscles, chamomile to help you sleep, and passionflower to relax. The smell of coffee is also good, but avoid drinking too much if you’re feeling anxious.
23. Start the day again
Trick your brain into rebooting. Having a frustrating start to the day? Just start it again. Brush your teeth and wash your face to get a fresh start.
24. Put your phone down
Too much time with tech can limit your concentration, making it harder to get things done. It can also disrupt your sleep. Try to spend less time on your phone – especially before bed.
25. Picture a relaxed you
This guy is about to kick a rugby ball between two posts. Before the kick, he’s visualising the ball leaving his foot and flying through the posts. It gives him confidence and makes him certain he’ll be successful. Close your eyes. Visualise a happier, more relaxed you.
26. Read a book
One of the oldest and fastest-acting ways to escape the pressures of the day. Just six minutes of a good book can lower your stress levels significantly.
27. Play an instrument
Listening to music provides an outlet for your emotions. Making music does too. The sense of achievement from learning is a great confidence booster. And the repetition of practice is perfect for switching off.
28. Make a to-do list
The feeling that there’s just too much to do is a top cause of stress. Make a realistic to-do list every day, and take pride in ticking tasks off. Try the Trello app to feel more in control.
29. Make dinner
Wash. Peel. Chop. Stir. Following a recipe from start to finish can feel ordered and therapeutic. Cooking something healthy? Knowing you’re looking after yourself feels good.
30. Wear socks in bed
Cold hands and feet stop your brain preparing you for sleep, and a lack of good sleep can make stress worse. Pull on some thick socks with your PJs to get the rest you need.
31. Phone home
Sometimes you just need to hear a friendly voice, and a reminder that your world is bigger than your four walls. Call home, open up. Feel connected, supported and reassured.
32. Listen to music
33. Hold somebody’s hand
A lovely way to release the love hormone oxytocin. You don’t have to be in love with the person – just find a friend to interlace your fingers with and you’ll feel more relaxed.
34. Have a laugh
Put on your favourite comedy and have a good laugh. It’ll release feel-good endorphins and stimulate circulation – good for tension relief. Seems laughter actually is the best medicine.
35. Use a reed diffuser
Your sense of smell is more powerful than you might think. Certain scents can even change your mood. Try lemon for calm, cinnamon for focus and jasmine to fight depression.
36. Practice yoga
Still a brilliant way to reduce anxiety by getting control of your breathing, lowering your heart rate and keeping fit. Try Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.
37. Add background noise
Stressed because you can’t focus? Add some soothing, ambient noise – it’s been shown to improve creative thinking. Try Noisli, available online or on your mobile.
38. Create a capsule wardrobe
Streamline to just 10 or so classic pieces that never go out of style. They’ll all work with each other, and you’ll wear them all year round. It’s a great way to simplify and de-clutter.
39. Learn to say no
It’s tough to turn down an invite. But taking on too much can hurt your productivity and lead to stress. Learn to say no effectively to feel more productive and empowered.
40. Bake a cake
Baking a cake can be even better for your wellbeing than eating one. The focus on exact measurements, the creative outlet, the generosity of sharing food with others. All good.
41. Care for a plant
Studies have shown that caring for a house plant can have a positive effect on your wellbeing, helping to reduce stress and improve productivity. Add some foliage to your flat.
42. Get a hot water bottle
Place one under your neck to ease muscle tension, or hug one to relieve any stomach pain caused by stress. You can even put one by your feet to help you get to sleep easier.
43. Watch your favourite film
Re-watching a movie that you know by heart can be surprisingly beneficial – the nostalgia can trigger feelings of warmth and memories of happy times.
44. Take control of your spending
Be proactive about facing any money worries. Download a free budgeting app and find out where you can make changes – you’ll also be able to budget for things that make you happy.
45. Tense and relax
Say goodbye to the tension caused by stress. With this technique, you tense and squeeze, then completely relax, each major muscle group in turn. Say hello to a warm, relaxing glow.
How do you unwind from uni stress?