Keep Calm and Carry On

Student Life

When one thinks of ‘stress relief’, some of the first things that spring to mind are luxurious massages, spa treatments and holidays in the sun. However, for the student on a budget, relief can be found in cheap, everyday activities, from running a bath to turning your music up and pretending that essay doesn’t exist for a sly half an hour.

Power nap.

Most students hardly need much persuasion to indulge in that favorite pastime – sleeping. A nap, whether in the middle of an essay crisis or between lectures, can recharge and revitalise. So, set your alarm, dim the lights and lie back. For those with busy schedules a ‘caffeine nap’ might be the answer. Caffeine can take up to 45 minutes to hit your system, so a 20 minute power nap after having a caffeinated drink can lead to you waking up refreshed, alert and hopefully de-stressed.

Stroking a cat.

Pet ownership has long been said to have beneficial side effects, providing a source of stress relief and thus improving health in the long term. Stroking an animal such a cat can be a soothing experience. Therefore if you’re feeling stressed and are in a college lucky enough to have a college cat, or some other furry mammal, one suggestion is to locate the animal, find a comfortable spot and invest some time in stroking it. Something similar could be attempted with a college tortoise, however the beneficial effects of such an activity are yet to be proved.

Playing COD.

Whilst sports such as kickboxing, rugby or basketball are likely to reduce stress and let out pent up frustration or aggression, for the more laidback student, aware of the dangers involved in actual physical exercise, a shooter video game such as Call of Duty may fulfill the same purpose. Take out your frustration at that essay, problem sheet or mind numbing lab report on your fictional ‘enemies’, although losing may end up being ultimately more stressful.


If getting more exercise was on your list of perhaps neglected New Year’s resolutions, now is a good time to take it up again. Whether it be running, football, rugby, netball, hockey or just a trip to the gym, physical exercise will help you both look and feel good, increasing your body’s mood boosting endorphins and hopefully taking your mind off the more stressful aspects of university life.


The simple act of laughter reduces stress hormones as well as releasing stress reducing endorphins – so find an occasion to laugh. Suggestions include taking pleasure in other people’s misfortune on, watching live comedy at the Free Beer Show at the Cellar every other Monday, or going to see the Oxford Imps at The Wheatsheaf every Monday.


Drawing is supposedly a ‘self soothing’ activity, providing a non-verbal outlet for pent-up emotions. Even if your artistic efforts are unlikely to please anyone else, you could still profit by them. The Ruskin offers life classes on Wednesday and Thursday evenings for anyone interested in getting in touch with their creative side.


Loud music is guaranteed to drown at least the sound of your sorrows; so one way to recover from a stressful day is to have a Bridget Jones moment alone in your room. If that seems a little unappealing there’s always the option of going to see a band with friends, whether it be classical, dubstep, drum & bass or indie, something can be found to soothe any stressed student.

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