Humans are quirky.
We think we’re trailblazers for exploring the minuscule amount of space we’ve managed to survive in, scientists don’t know why we need to sleep for an average of 8 hours, and we associate smell with memory. There are a bunch of things we can’t explain about ourselves, and we’re all different when it comes to relieving stress. It’s a crazy time of year in terms of exams, assignments and other uni commitments. If the usual stress relief methods aren’t working for you, here are some quirky ones you can test out when you’re feeling under pressure. Don’t ask me why…
Hang out with dogs
I don’t know what humanity did to deserve dogs, but we’ve got them and if I had my way I’d spend every waking moment with them. Studies have shown that people who own or have the ability to spend time with a dog are much less stressed than those who do not – the idea being that unconditional love has a positive impact on us. Crazy, right? Many universities do ‘pet therapy’ sessions on campus, so keep your eye out for those. Otherwise, do what I do: walk into a pet store and pretend you’re genuinely interested in buying a puppy so they let you hold one. If that doesn’t work, there’s always this.
It turns out chewing gum is actually super helpful for stress and concentration (every teacher you ever had was wrong! Savour it). If you chew gum while studying or during an exam you will get more done – purely because the act of continuously chewing something stimulates your brain enough not to get distracted by things in your immediate surroundings. A study done in 2008 showed that participants who chewed gum had lower levels of anxiety, increased alertness, reduced stress and an increased ability to multitask. Better stock up on your chewy!
Look at fractals
I know what you’re thinking: what the hell is a fractal? You know those trippy kaleidoscope shapes that nature makes that get captured in gifs and posted all over the internet? Yeah, those. Finding fractals (repeating or identical patterns) in art, nature or architecture can be oddly calming. Research shows that looking at waves, snowflakes or swirls in paintings can have a calming effect on the brain. Placing yourself in a ‘fractal-rich’ environment for 20 minutes a day could really help you de-stress. Check it out.
Rub your Hoku
Not what it sounds like… The Hoku is the flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. Scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that it’s an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, minimizes stress by up to 39%. Perfect for when your internet connection drops out and you lose your damn mind.
Buy a Bonsai
Apart from looking really cool, Bonsai trees are known to have calming effects when placed in a room of high-stress. Apart from being the easiest plant to keep alive, taking care of a plant can help you de-stress. The aim is to cultivate a miniature tree that is aesthetically pleasing. You influence the direction it grows and shape it takes, ensuring along the way that it remains healthy. Not only this, plants purify air – so your dingy study den of darkness will get an added boost of life.
Who knows? Maybe some of you are already doing these stress-relievers on the regular. If you’ve got an even weirder stress reliever, I want to know… Good luck with all of your assignments and exams!
*If you are having trouble coping with stress and anxiety, please contact a friend, family member or your local GP for advice and guidance with these issues.