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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How to de-stress without breaking the bank

Three ways to relax during midterm season

As the storm of the first midterm season comes to an end and I start to prepare for my next round of tests, I’ve noticed that I am not doing anything to settle myself down. Last quarter, I had four midterms in one week, so I just poured myself into my work instead of taking time to relax. But as a fourth year, I’ve grown to see the faults in how I deal with stress. For example, I typically avoid all stress relievers, and instead allow my stress to consume me until I have rashes all over my arms—which isn’t necessarily the best way to deal with the ongoing dread of tests. Therefore, I have created a random list (which is also one of my favorite ways to de-stress) of ways to handle stress on a budget. 

Make a mood board 

I love Pinterest for so many reasons, but mostly because it has everything I love about media without the social part in it. I don’t really care who follows me; there’s no pressure to maintain a certain image and it’s just cute photos pertaining to what you already have saved on your boards. Creating something for your friends is wholesome; I love it when someone goes up to me and says, “This reminded me of you,” and that’s essentially what a mood board is: a whole picturesque vibe of what reminds you of your friends. Instead of focusing on whatever is currently weighing you down with your own stress, pick a friend and find random pictures on Pinterest that you think describe them. If you want to get even more creative, download the photos and turn them into an aesthetic collage.

If you want to use this spare time to focus on yourself, then create a mood board about you. Use this stress-free time to focus on what you love most about yourself or the things you love and create a fun mood board that allows you to reset your motivation and focus on something other than your stress without spending any money. 

Make a playlist 

Something similar to a mood board is creating a playlist. It might be my complete Type A personality, but I love organizing things and making sure they match and fit well. Creating a playlist could be as simple as going through all of my liked songs and sorting them depending on the vibe they bring or listening to random recommended searches on YouTube and sorting them by whatever theme they bring to mind. My new favorite playlist topics are ones that remind me of book characters; having to focus on the lyrics meshing with the background music gives me a small exit from the normal frantics of school stress. Focusing specifically on one thing can often pull me away from whatever is currently stressing me out, and stepping into the mind of a book character or the plot of a story gives me a break from my problems. 

Maybe you’re stressed because of school work or maybe it’s a certain person in your life that gives you a difficult time—whatever it may be, creating a playlist for how you feel is cathartic. Releasing those emotions into songs when you don’t have the right words to create them yourself can be freeing. 


Reading truly does have a bad reputation amongst Gen Zers. So many of my friends complain that they would love to read, but they just can’t—they don’t have enough time or it bores them. However, I believe there’s a book out there for all of us; we just need to find it. This is why I recommend reading a book to calm the stress. Think about what types of movies you like and find a book in that same genre. There is a book about everything, and they are so much more beautiful than movies because they have more detail. 

What’s best about reading is that it gives you the same sort of escapism that movies do but better. With movies, we are thrown into a new world for two hours where we are given an outsider’s perspective. However, with books, we get to visit a new world and immerse ourselves in it, ultimately forgetting about our problems for a good length of time. 

While going to small bookstores are half the fun of reading, continuously spending $10 on every paperback adds up. That is why I suggest second hand online bookshops. Websites like Book Outlet or Thriftbooks offer books for half of the cost, and some are good as new. You might receive the occasional dent or crooked spine, but the energy of a story remains the same. The Friends of the Davis Public Library also often have their own book sales. During the first Friday of every month, the Friends of the Davis Public Library set up their shop, and the public is open to browse their books, some as cheap as $1. While their shop is currently closed due to COVID-19, they plan on opening up the first week of March for outside browsing. 

I recommend reading 30 minutes before bed. As a Class A worrier, there have been countless nights where I stay up because I’m stressing about all of the work I have to do. I’ve found that spending time away from my phone or my schoolwork before bed helps me fall asleep faster and sleep through the night.

Everything on this list is an alternative to focusing on our problems. Focusing on a friend, a book character or music allows us to step back and look at our stress from a different point of view, so we can get things done and take the breath of fresh air that we desperately need. 
Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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