Stress is arguably the most common factor affecting undergrad students’ emotional, mental, and physical health. Not to mention its negative effects on assignment, project, and test scores; if unmanaged, stress can destroy a student’s career and academic success along with his or her life. As a fellow undergrad student, who is trying to manage her stress, I’ve discovered some techniques and tricks that can lower stress. Granted, these are short-term solutions, any kind of long-term solution to stress will require more time and effort to accomplish.

Lie Down

One of the best things I’ve found is to lie down flat on my back, arms and legs outstretched (like you would if you were trying to make a snow angel), and look up at the ceiling. Avoid using a mat or blanket, but if you need you can use a small pillow or rolled towel for your head. The goal is to relieve pressure on your back and joints while straightening the spine. This works best in a calm, quiet environment, the mind must be relieved of the pressure it accumulates throughout the day. There’s no need to attain a state of Zen, just a state where you can hear your own thoughts.

Cuddle a plush doll of some sort

You’re never too old to cuddle, even with a doll. I have a very large Kaa doll (snake from jungle book) that I bought when I was still in middle school. I am reusing it now as a means to stress relief, and it is efficient; it is large enough to wrap myself in. With that said invest in a plush doll large enough that you can give a full arm hug to, or heavy enough that you could use in place of a dumbbell (15 pounds at least). Regular sized dolls won’t give the same results; the idea is to mimic hugging and squeezing an actual person, but with the convenience of always having a large doll at hand.

Relax in bed

Don’t take a nap, instead just get into your pajamas, pull the covers, close the door, and relax in bed. An important note: don’t do this at night or when the sun is going down; this is strictly a morning-day time option. What you’re trying to accomplish here is a return to a state of mind associated with an environment or place. When we are about to sleep we are drowsy and aren’t thinking much at all, our warm beds, soft pillows, and comfy pajamas are the only things occupying our minds. You don’t want to actually fall asleep, it’s not energy that you need but a mental break. To prevent this, the best thing to do is to leave the curtains wide open. This way you can stop yourself from falling asleep, and enjoy the natural light. If you don’t have a window, just buy a soft white light lamp.

Drink water

Instead of eating, just drink water, eating when you’re stressed does more harm than good. When you’re stressed your body releases a hormone that makes you feel hungry, but you don’t actually need food. It’s like eating when you’re bored, and the solution to the stress-related problem is also the solution for the boredom problem. Drinking a nice, cool glass of water in place of some fatty, sugary food will help your health and stress. Quickly downing a large glass of icy water in 3 or 4 mouthfuls isn’t the proper way to ease your stress, it will make it worse. Prepare a large glass of cool water and sit down for 5-10 minutes, taking small, easy sips at your own pace. Don’t rush it, take this time to enjoy your drink.

Look up pictures of chickens

People don’t appreciate the smaller things in life when everyone thinks of funky, beautiful, exotic looking birds the chicken is the last one that comes to mind. In reality, chickens are domestic birds of paradise. The Silkie, or as I like to call it, the “llama chicken”, is among one of the most beautiful and enigmatic breeds of chicken; how does it know where it’s going, how does it manage to clean itself, how does it manage to stay cool despite being able to live in relatively arm places? It’s one of the most interesting breeds of chicken and is by no means in a minority. Take for instance the Easter egger chicken, a chicken that can lay brightly pastel blue eggs; or the crazy haired Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken. The many breeds of chickens will suck you in for a solid hour and half to 2 hours of a googling spiral. By that time you’d have already forgotten your stress, and probably looking into chicken coups; to get you started, here are my favorite websites for chickens.