De-stressing Strategies and Self Care

With the recent poor air quality in Berkeley due to the fires in California (my heart goes out to those families affected by them,) frenzy of midterms and assignments in the past month, and the end of the semester impending, for many students it has been difficult to find time for themselves and to recharge. With so many places to be, assignments to complete, activities to see to, and people to meet, I’ve found little time recently to do things that I truly enjoy, just for myself.

It’s so important, especially at this point in our lives, to find activities that calm us in the midst of the stresses of college. While Berkeley has somewhat of a reputation of being a hard work-inducing environment, there are many opportunities to de-stress and find time for oneself here.

Below are two lists of de-stressing strategies and self care activities that work for me: one, featuring spots on and around campus to visit, and the other, which includes activities that can be done anywhere– even during a break at home or on the go between appointments.

Places in and around Berkeley to go to de-stress and reserve time for yourself:

  1. Hiking trails: the Fire Trails, the Big C: These two hiking trails are both super close to campus and offer really gorgeous views of the Bay Area to contextualize your worries and put them into perspective. After a hike at either of these locations, I feel active, humbled, grateful, and recharged. *Note: this activity is best suited for normal levels of air quality. Stay safe bears and be mindful before conducting outdoor activities!
  2. Morrison Library: This gorgeous reading room/library toward the front entrance of Doe offers a perfect, cozy safe haven in the middle of campus. Traditionally kept technology-free, this is the perfect place to reserve an hour or two of time for yourself, unplug, and read a physical book (wow!) in an ambient space. Detaching from electronics can be a huge relief and an overall cleansing experience.
  3. Yoga Classes: Yoga is an amazing activity to do for mindfulness and self care. The perfect bridge between a physical workout and a peaceful, introspective exercise, yoga offers the opportunity to breathe deeply and rest your mind. Even for complete beginners, Berkeley offers an amazing variety of opportunities to practice yoga! Corepower and Yoga to the People are amazing off campus options (tried and tested by yours truly, big thumbs up!), but RSF yoga classes are also completely free for students and offer an enjoyable, convenient experience.

Activities to do anywhere:

  1. Baking and Cooking: The physical action of creating one’s own food, with the right attitude, is super rewarding and restorative. Trying out a new recipe, or making cookies for your friends is super fun, and creating something new can really clear your mind.
  2. Cleaning: Cleaning is a very useful activity to channel one’s stresses into. The act of organizing and decluttering a once messy space is liberating for many. Changing up your environment can make it a more inviting place to come home to after a stressful day of classes or activities.
  3. Podcasts and Music: One of the best ways to get out of your head in between activities and classes is listening to calming music or a podcast. Being able to focus on something neutral gives your body and mind a needed recharge between commitments. A pair of headphones is essential on the Berkeley campus for commutes by foot between campus buildings or to and from home.

While some of these strategies may seem time consuming or arbitrary, it’s important to keep in mind that caring for oneself and listening to your own needs should not have to be a luxury: taking time to de-stress is not something to feel guilty or worried about. While some of these activities may not work for everyone, and self care strategies differ to reflect each individual, they should be a good jumping off point. While sometimes we bears do the impossible, we deserve to be able to take time and hibernate, rest, and recharge before getting up and going back to doing great things.

Author: Evelyn Lawrence

Hi, my name is Evelyn Lawrence! Having grown up in the Bay Area, I feel very at home as an incoming Senior at UC Berkeley pursuing a double major in Legal Studies and Psychology. Besides being a Campus Ambassador, I am the Artistic Director for the Ballet Company at Berkeley, I tutor French 1 and 2, and I am an RA in International House. In my free time I love to read, watch old movies, do yoga, and try new restaurants and cafés! Going to Cal inspires me every day to learn, grow and share with others.