Spring is always an incredibly busy time of the year, what with work piling up and finals quick-approaching. The stress tends to catch me off guard, so despite the sunny weather, I especially need to focus on my mental health to get me through to summer.

There are a few very easy ways to make you feel happier and more relaxed when you notice the tension and stress rising.

Breathe

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Breathing seems like a no-brainer. Of course, we're breathing all the time. But I certainly have to remind myself often to just sit and breathe. A deep breath calms me down and gives me a minute to rationalize the stress I'm feeling so I know that I can make it past any obstacles looming at the moment. Anytime, anyplace, a deep breath can really make a difference in your state of mind.

Practice meditation

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Meditation may sound silly or scary to you, but I've found it to be a very valuable personal practice that leaves me feeling refreshed and centered after just a few minutes of it. To start off, find a quiet place you're comfortable in and just focus on your breathing. You may want to find a video that can help lead you through the process, or you may just want to try it to see what works for you. A simple exercise of the mind is so beneficial to clearing your head and putting the present in perspective.

Read

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This one may be more applicable to some people than others, but I strongly believe that we can all benefit from a good book. Lately, I've felt that I haven't had a whole lot of time to read anything outside of class, but when I do get the chance it feels so much more exciting. It doesn't matter what book you pick up; as long as you can escape your thoughts for a short period of time to read about something interesting to you, you're doing it right.

Listen to music

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Music is always a go-to healer for me. Sometimes you need an upbeat playlist to get you in a good mood, and other times a good cry brought on by some sad music is cleansing in and of itself. Music is deeply personal and connects you to your inner self and to others who share your tastes. If you just need some background tunes to distract yourself for a bit, try some calming, good-vibe bands such as Summer Salt.

Practice positivity

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Positivity is important to our well-being, but as humans, we tend to be more negative than optimistic. Each of us should practice personal reaffirmation to begin to realize our worth. Whether you start to appreciate one of your best qualities or just the fact that you're having a good day, you'll be much more likely to notice the positive occurrences in the future and see the optimism manifesting good things for you.

Try some yoga

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Yoga is fairly new to me, but I've discovered that I really like it! A lot of schools offer it for free, or most local places offer a cheap weekly class to drop into. The entire experience is designed to be very calming and meditative, and while it's a good exercise, it's pretty easy to catch on to its routine movements. Afterward, you feel refreshed and healthy, and it's a really rewarding experience.

Reward yourself

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Speaking of rewarding, remember to pay attention to your achievements and reward yourself for your hard work. Set up a reward system to reduce procrastination, reward yourself with an extra scoop of ice cream, or just remember to appreciate yourself for the things you do well. We're hard on ourselves far too frequently, and we need to remember to compensate for stress with some fun and relaxation!

Journal

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Many people already have a journaling habit, which is a great way to release emotion and reflect on day-to-day life. It doesn't have to be a time-consuming ritual and it shouldn't be a stressful activity. Instead, it should be an easy way to jot down feelings so that you can accept and move on from them. Plus, it's a great way to practice writing so that it's a little easier to write your next essay.

Be creative

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Creativity is so crucial to our lives. Whatever you can use as a creative outlet, whether it be cross stitching or just some good ol' coloring with crayons (inside or outside the lines!), a few minutes of a low-stress, a productive activity can be really refreshing. There's a reason adult coloring books were so popular. Spending a little time being creative relieves so much stress and really allows you to get to know yourself as a creative individual - separating you from the focused, busy individual you may become when the stress is high.

Get outside

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Finally, going outside and getting in touch with the environment is probably the healthiest thing you can do for yourself. Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather. Soak up the Vitamin D and smell the flowers! Your body will thank you for some fresh air and greenery when you're sick of being cooped up inside studying and working all day.

So, pick the tactic that sounds most interesting to you and gets started on your journey to a healthier mind. As beautiful as spring may be, it's a busy and stressful time. Take the time to focus on what you need and how you can best help yourself. It's never a bad idea to take a break, breathe, and renew your mental health.

A busy spring can fly by in the blink of an eye, so why not make the best of it?