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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

A good spring break doesn’t have to be expensive

During the stressful finals week, students look forward to taking well-earned time off

As finals approach, quarter-system students everywhere may be feeling an enormous amount of stress and pressure. With spring break on the horizon, however, students can also look forward to a period of relaxation and time off to recollect themselves. Even if students can’t afford a lavish trip to Cabo or Las Vegas with friends, there are other cheap and healthy activities to reboot their systems after a quarter of tireless work.

Finding a balance between school and relaxation is key to the success of students. According to the ACHA Spring 2018 National College Health assessment, 64.3 percent of college students in 2018 reported feeling “overwhelmingly anxious,” while 42.9 percent said they felt “so depressed it was difficult to function.” Balance is vital to the mental and physical health of students.

Periods of relaxation and  stress-free environments can help counter these negative feelings.

Balance looks different to every student. Some people like to catch up on all the latest shows or movies on Netflix, while others may find solace in baking or crafting.

Yasmeen Qursha, a second-year environmental policy analysis and planning major, believes in taking time for herself among her rigorous schedule, especially when on breaks.

“For me personally, going out into nature and hiking, running or going to the beach when I’m home in Orange County is really effective for me, a college student on a tight budget,” Qursha said.

Qursha specifically finds value in spending time outdoors and in nature. An article in Harvard Health Publishing states that “calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.”

While the gloomy weather of Winter Quarter may have kept students cooped up in dorms or apartments, spring break is a great opportunity to be re-exposed to nature (weather permitting). Even for those staying on campus, taking a stroll through the Arboretum or hiking around nearby Sacramento can lead to overall success and improvement in one’s mental health. All for free.

Maya Jones, a first-year undeclared fine arts major, deals with the stress of school by taking quiet moments to be with her thoughts.

“In general I go to the gym, take a shower or go outside and just breathe,” Jones said.

Forbes Magazine cited a study that shows the relationship between controlled breathing and the brain regions related to emotion. Breathing techniques are commonly used among mental health and medical professionals, and there are serious merits behind such a seemingly simple activity.  

As far as utilizing breaks for improving one’s mental state, Jones suggests finding enjoyment in little things.

“People can hike, go to museums or beaches, have a picnic, go on a run, or walk around a mall or plaza,” Jones said.

Written by: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org


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