By Megan Tullos |

As we move steadily into midterms season, stress levels (including my own) seem to be at an all-time high. 

When I’m stressed out, my first instinct is to “treat myself” by going out and buying something that makes me happy. I’ve spent ungodly amounts on Bath & Body Works candles and used the last $50 in my bank account on a manicure hoping to wind down from a stressful week. 

These things make me feel good in the moment, but the happy feeling that comes from buying things tends to wear off before the day is over and wearing down my bank account for temporary moments of happiness isn’t sustainable. 

This semester, I tried to focus on finding ways to relax without spending money. Here are a few of the things I’ve found that really seem to work when I need to find my zen. 

Getting some Vitamin D

So much of our time in college is spent indoors. We spend most of the day working in classrooms, studying in the library, and hardly any of it outside. I’ve found that sitting outside for any time at all, even if it’s outside of Moody while working on a paper, is helpful. Take some good deep breaths of air that’s not supplied by a Baylor University air conditioner and then get back to what you need to do.

Build a routine

My freshman and sophomore year, I wasn’t really keeping up with any sort of daily routine. Going into my 18 hour semester this year, I knew something had to change. My weeks are now planned, and I set aside time for myself to do things I enjoy. When my weeks are hard, I can take comfort in my routine and know that I have time set aside for me coming up. I set aside time to hang out with friends, take time alone and play with my roommates dog. 

Take time for the little things

My favorite thing about every morning is coffee. When I wake up, the only thing that gets me out of bed is knowing I can have coffee in a few minutes. Usually, I make coffee as I run out the door and drink it on my way to class, but if I’m having a stressful week getting up a few minutes earlier to enjoy my coffee while I get ready always makes a difference in my day. Whether it’s coffee or not, take the time to do something small that you love when things get busy.

Get some exercise

I know this one is a little cheesy, but getting the blood pumping in your body is one of the fastest ways to reduce feelings of stress. I’m not a big fan of working out, but I’ve started taking walks around campus in the early evening after my classes. Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes turns my whole day around, and you can always take a friend with you to have someone to talk to. 

Listen to some good music

One of my favorite things in life is driving home after a long day and listening to my favorite songs. Those few minutes that I’m doing something other than studying or working are so relaxing when paired with music I love. Take time during any break you have to put on some music that puts you in a good mood, it leaves me feeling calmer and re-energized once I get back to work. 

Hopefully, we can all get through the semester without too much stress. But, if things start to seem overwhelming, take a deep breath and trade the temptation to spend money for one of these five (free!) things. Your stress levels and bank account will thank you!