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7 Activities You Can Do to Destress Between Classes

young woman stressed about school
B-D-S Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock

If you’re already feeling deep in the school year stress, we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at seven easy activities you can do to destress and stay focused.

The start of the school year is a clean slate, full of promise. You’re fresh from summer, excited, and ready to nail all your classes. Maybe you’ll even aim for straight As!

But just a few weeks later, reality sets in. Even if your grades are high, your energy might be low—while your stress levels are rising. College can be worthwhile, but the truth is, it’s not as easy as those college movies make it seem.

Learning to destress is key to winning this semester—and every semester. However, sometimes you don’t have much time to devote to self-care. When you’re in high-stress mode and crunched for time, try one of these quick destressers in between classes.

Take the Long Way

You probably already know exercise can help combat stress. But you don’t always have time to get to the campus gym. Luckily, mild exercise, even just a short walk, can do amazing things for your stress levels.

Because you probably already walk to your classes, try taking the long way when you can. Some psychologists say that walking for just 10 minutes can give you the same stress-relieving benefits as a 45-minute workout. A quick walk through campus can be helpful—and if your campus has a scenic, tree-lined path you can take, even better.

Use a Meditation App

If you can find a bench or campus cafe to sit down at, you can do a quick meditation to clear your mind before the next class. Meditation apps help you tap in to that clear-headed space quickly. Try this list of apps to get started—most of them are free. Having trouble envisioning yourself as a meditator? Maybe the trials of our own Harry Guinness will help things click for you.

In those worst-case scenarios when your phone dies, you can get similar benefits with some deep breathing. Try to breathe in and out as deeply as you can while focusing on nothing but your breath.

Keep a Journal

If you prefer analog relaxation, an old-fashioned journal can help you destress in five minutes or less.

You don’t have to fill your journal with serious, long-form entries. You can pull it out between classes to doodle, jot down how you’re feeling, or vent about a frustrating moment. Sometimes, just writing something down can give you a fresh perspective that makes your day feel less stressful.

Dive into a Book

young woman reading a book between classes
bbernard/Shutterstock

Other times, what you need is distraction. Instead of thinking about your own experiences, you might need to escape into someone else’s for a few minutes.

While we often turn to our favorite shows for that escape, fitting in an episode in the middle of your school day might be hard. A compelling book, however, can give you the portable distraction you need between classes.

Use a physical book, an ebook, or a book on tape—they’ll all give you the same benefit. Just make sure the story is exciting enough to pull you out of your stressful thoughts for a few minutes.

Envision Your Future

When you’re in the throes of tough assignments and upcoming exams, you might forget the purpose of it all. If you picture your future goals for a couple minutes, though, you’ll tap into your reasons for pushing through the stressful parts.

Recall what your post-graduation dreams are. Imagine your dream job or dream city, and remember how your degree will help you get there. Not sure what you’ll do after graduation yet? Try some brainstorming—jot down or imagine the potential futures that appeal to you most.

This daydreaming might get fanciful, but even if you don’t stick to realistic goals, it’s not a waste of time. Research suggests that daydreaming is actually good for your mental health, and it might even have side benefits like improving your memory.

Make Fun Plans

Building small rewards into your difficult semester is important, too. Having something fun to look forward to can make a trying week at school seem a little easier.

You can pick up your phone and quickly make a plan for your next free day or evening. Send a text to the group chat, look up a local event, or decide what you’ll do on your next self-care-focused night in.

Take a Relaxing Shower

If you have enough time to stop by your dorm between classes, a quick, refreshing shower can help you feel less stressed.

Make this shower all about relaxation. Take your favorite flavor of sparkling water or energy drink in with you. Use that great-smelling body wash you love. Imagine you’re washing all the stress of your day away. Once you towel off, you’ll feel like you have a clean start to the rest of the day.

No time for a full shower? Even just washing your face can give a similar refreshing effect.


College is filled with highs and lows. There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a semester on a strong note, or discovering a class that excites your passions. And of course, graduation is a moment of triumph unlike any other. But on the flip side, you’ll also face some grueling, stressful days when it all feels too overwhelming.

Don’t worry—getting stressed during college is totally normal. Try these quick destressers, find which ones work best for you, and use them to push through to the future rewards waiting for you on the other side.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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