by Oleg Ignatenko

College life tends to revolve around heavy study sessions, hard work, pulling all nighters, and consumption of lots and lots of coffee and energy drinks to keep yourself functioning.  This refers not only to those who constantly get kicked out of the library at 2 am (you know who you are) but also to those who feel like “free time” is an expression that has long ceased to exist.  The truth about free time is that it does exist and I am not talking about that time when you are going to sleep for 3 hours or the time when you are walking across campus to get to your class, or the time when you are driving home from work or school.  Free time is when you let your mind relax and let go of all worries for the time being.

Depending on what type of personality you have, there could be a number of options that you could consider doing.  The most popular one is going to the gym.  There is nothing that allows you to let go of worries better than running, lifting, and exercising.  You may also want to get involved with some clubs such as cycling, tennis, kiteboarding, volleyball, etc.  One popular choice for a relaxing exercise is yoga.  Personally, I have a fear that if I try any of those yoga positions, my body might either break or my limbs will get tangled and I will stay that way forever but who knows, maybe for you it will be a relaxing and calming experience.  Maybe, you want to get all Brazilian and join a Jiu-Jitsu club and really take it out on somebody or if you are still re-reading Harry Potter books and running around your kitchen on a broom, why not join the muggle quiditch club which is by the way one of the top ranked teams in the nation.  Here is a link to all the club sports that are available to the Canes. All in all whatever activity helps you relax and find that peace of mind is yours for the taking.
Other ways that help people relax are spending time with their family or friends.  The family part of course is kind of tough since most of our old folks live hundred of miles away but where there is a will, there is a way and if using Skype does not fulfill your needs of communicating with the people that are close to you, you could probably find a cheap flight on Spirit or JetBlue airlines so they can come bother you for a weekend and then be on their way.  Some great places to hang out with friends are the Rathskeller, Segafredo, Casolas (if you’re in the mood for a ginormous slice of pizza or chicken wings that are the size of you hand) or even such a place as Starbucks could provide a nice and refreshing atmosphere for a night of relaxing with your friends.
While I do think that a lot of those other options are very interesting and stress relieving, I would like to add another option that in my opinion is very underrated and that does not require you to go anywhere or do much.  My option (which has worked for me in the past) is having the ability to come home, shut off all electronic devices, that means no background music or the turning on the TV (just because), no laptop, and most importantly shutting off your cell phone.  Once all of this is done, I would simply lay down either on the couch or my bed and just close my eyes without going to sleep but instead just having that time of about 20-30 minutes to lay there without any distractions or noise and think about the stress you have been having and slowly and methodically think about how you are going to overcome or solve those issues that have been causing your stress.  You may also consider just laying there and trying not think think at all and just allow your mind to wonder freely.  Doing this type of exercise a couple of times a week will greatly reduce your stress levels.  Main thing that you should avoid doing is allowing yourself to get distracted with thoughts that you are wasting time or that there are other, more important things to do.  Convince yourself that this is healthy and that it will be beneficial for you.  Try this out a few times and you will feel great afterwards and feel like you are still in control of your free time.