Finding constructive ways to unwind

Emily Doran

Like most college students, I turn to Netflix when I need a mental break from homework or when my brain is feeling fried after a test. Still, although I like watching TV shows and movies in order to zone out mentally every once in a while, I’ve found that there are other ways to take mental breaks that are more constructive.

One of my favorite ways to unwind productively is to play music; I’ve found that there are few activities as relaxing and rejuvenating. If you have musical experience and access to the instrument of your choice, I would highly recommend keeping up your skills and practicing even during the busy semesters. After all, music is the perfect outlet for creative expression.

Oftentimes, with the pressures of school and the imposed structures of homework and studying, we forget the importance of artistic exploration. Yet creativity is a key component of what makes us human, and its significance cannot be overstressed.

Playing an instrument is also very mentally recharging. Sometimes, if I’ve been awake late at night studying and my learning and living center building has gone quiet, I’ll go upstairs to a secluded classroom with a piano in it and play in complete privacy and not worry about disturbing anyone. By the time I’m finished, I’ll have completely unwound and recharged and be ready either to study some more or to get some sleep.

Even if you don’t have any background in music, it’s never too late to learn. Some instruments are comparatively easy to start with and access, such as pianos (there are several of them around campus). Others instruments, like guitars, are much easier to transport and can be played just about anywhere. Whichever instrument you choose, there are plenty of ways to improve your skills, from taking formal lessons to looking up tutorials on YouTube.

Another way that I like to unwind and recharge is by going outside. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I enjoy leaving my apartment when I need a break and playing basketball or going for a walk along one of the campus trails. There are plenty of fun and refreshing ways that you can spend time outside – including playing sports, riding a bike or going for a run.

Finally, I’ve found that one of the best ways to unwind constructively is to spend time engaged in a hobby. It’s always refreshing to revisit an old pastime or to develop a new one. For me personally, I enjoy writing. If I’ve had a rough day, for example, I can express my frustration through a journal entry; or if I feel like being creative, I can write a short story. Whatever your hobby, exploring it is bound to be an excellent way to unwind when you need a break.

Although it can be relaxing to binge-watch Netflix at the end of a long day and completely zone out, there are also other ways to unwind that are more constructive. My favorites include playing music, getting outside and pursing a hobby. I’ve found that these are excellent ways to recharge mentally and get refocused so that I can tackle my to-do list.

[email protected]