Five self care practices to manage stress

Reading, going outside and socializing are three of the key components to destress. While everyday stressors can try to take over our thoughts, it is important to make time for self care. From left: photos by Tianna Major, Jordan Palmer & Breanna Biorato.

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This year has been anything but relaxing for many students. Personally, in the past month alone I’ve dealt with the stress of moving somewhere without knowing anyone, juggling classwork with editor responsibilities, finally talking to doctors about my mental health, and worrying about the current political climate. Some days leave me feeling hopeless and drained of energy. I know I’m not alone in feeling absolutely exhausted.

With students juggling various responsibilities, semester burnout can sneak up on us, leaving students and faculty feeling tired and stressed out. Here are a few ways that students at Dixie State University are taking steps to destress.

Venture into the great outdoors

They don’t call it the “great outdoors” for nothing. Getting outside can reduce a great amount of stress for people. According to a study from science direct, spending time in natural outdoor environments benefits mental health and can reduce stress. 

As St. George heads into fall, the leaves are changing and the weather is remaining warm, but not stiflingly hot. It’s a perfect time to get outside to breathe fresh air and enjoy the red rocks.

“I really like to go fishing,” said Brett Porthan, a freshman communication studies major from Apple Valley, California. “I’m a wakeboarder and my friend has a boat, so we go to Sand Hollow all the time to go wakeboarding and just go cliff jumping.”

Get that heart rate up

In the 2001 movie “Legally Blonde” Elle Woods famously says: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”

Woods makes a great point. Exercise is a healthy, harmless outlet for stress and anger. An article by Harvard Medical School states that exercise stimulates the production of endorphins and reduces stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. 

McKenzie Nelson, a sophomore elementary education major from Draper, said, “Exercise would probably be the number one thing to get all your anger out and not concentrate on everything that’s going on.”

Next time you get in a fight with your roommate or feel stressed about assignments consider taking a break to do something active.

The best part about this tip is how it can be adapted to everyone. Dance in your room, go to a gym, follow a YouTube video, take a walk, go climbing or go for a run. The possibilities are endless. Release all that pent-up stress and anger into a physical outlet, and after you may find yourself feeling a little lighter and more relaxed.

The Human Performance Center at DSU is a great place for students to exercise. 

“I like to go to the Human Performance Center,” said Kade Neilson, a freshman biology major from St. George. “I’m actually going there right now to do some cardio cause I feel like doing cardio exercise kinda relieves stress.”

So next time you find yourself stressed, take time and move your body.

Spend time with furry friends

Coming home after a long day and getting to focus on an animal is a great way to destress. Pets can give you unconditional love and their presence is comforting. Whether you have a cat, fish, lizard, hamster, or dog, animals can bring joy to a dull day.

Nikki Trush, a sophomore biology major from Toquerville, said she manages stress by spending time with her two dogs. “I go home and I pet my dogs a lot,” Trush said. “Honestly I just play with the dogs and hang out with my husband, then I go right back to school.”

According to News in Health, animal interaction can lower cortisol, blood pressure and feelings of loneliness.

Dive deep into great literature

College students often find themselves with loads of required reading for classes. While one may not think of reading as a stress reliever right away, reading can be a great way to distress, because it can distract your mind and allow you to think about something other than the stressors in your everyday life.

According to a University of Sussex study by David Lewis, reading reduces stress by 68% and all you need is at least six minutes. The study compared relaxation methods and found reading works fastest.

Emmaline Rawlinson, a senior elementary education major from Delta, explained how she relieves stress saying, “I take a few minutes a day and listen to an audiobook, so I’m working on that. And I talk to my roommates.”

Find a book on a person or subject you find interesting. Focusing on a book can take your mind into a different world where you don’t have to worry about the stress going on in your own life. Audio-books are also a great option. You can listen to books to preoccupy your mind as you walk to class, do the dishes or clean your room.


Tyler Penrose, a sophomore history education major from Missoula, Montana, said he deals with stress by “going for a run, reading, hanging out with people, [and] you know, staying social.” 

Socializing has been proven to lower cortisol levels and boost dopamine. In an article by Maria Cohut, Ph.D., she details how as humans interact in groups they experience improved mental health, physical strength and report more happiness. 

After a long day of staring at computer screens and phone screens interacting with people can be a breath of fresh air.

James Handley, a senior business administration major from Bountiful, said he destresses by exercising or hanging out with friends. Specifically, he goes to “B-Dubs” or Buffalo Wild Wings.

Students can get involved in clubs on campus and go to weekly events to socialize and in turn, relieve stress. 

Sometimes college can leave you feeling like you’re just a brain with a body to do schoolwork, but that’s not the case at all. Life is meant to be enjoyed as you move from situation to situation. Finding ways to ground yourself and feel relaxed is always important. Remember to prioritize your mental health.