After three weeks spent forgetting that school existed, the first weeks back on the grind can be tiresome and painful. With a million things to plan, submit and show up for, things can quickly reach critical sensory overload. If you’ve already reached this point or are teetering on the brink, here are a few suggestions for de-stressing.

Free Week at the Student Life Center

Have you ever seen that big shiny building looming at the top of campus and wondered what it was? It turns out that the first week of the new semester is the perfect time to solve the mystery. It’s called the Eccles Student Life Center and this week is “Free Week,” where all fitness classes are free to try out all week long, as many as you want. If these free classes don’t get you then maybe the pool, climbing wall, Outdoor Recreation Program and great workout equipment will. The use of the center’s workout facilities are always free with a valid U card. So, work out some first week stress and try something new during “Free Week.”

Make some (good) food

With all the “have to’s” that come with the beginning of a new semester, it can be hard to set aside time to eat, let alone to eat well. Not eating can make even the best of us into cranky beasts. Avoid the hangry, and slow down to make something good for yourself. Choose wholesome ingredients like fruits (wine counts), veggies and good proteins to boost your mood and lower your stress. Make it fun and invite a few stressed friends to share some much-needed nutrition and laughs. Laughter is the best medicine, after all.

Take a walk

Yes, It’s still winter, which means it can be a little on the chilly side in Salt Lake. Instead of using the cold as an excuse or another reason to feel down about the beginning of the semester, bundle up and take a walk. Even just electing to walk to your next class instead of taking the shuttle can give you some quiet time to relax. When we’re sitting on the bus or the train we often feel like we need to be checking something off on our to-do lists. This constant pressure all day long takes a toll on stress levels. Give yourself a break, leave a few minutes early and allow yourself a nice stroll across campus. Focus on the journey and leave the to-do list items for the destination.

Take advantage of the holiday weekend

Luckily, the first weekend of the Spring semester is a long one, with Martin Luther King Jr. Day falling on Monday, Jan. 18. Instead of using the extra time to cram in as much work for new classes as possible, why not take a vacation? Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the United States. There are five National Parks within our state’s borders. Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef are all a half day’s drive down the road and are beautiful year-round. Pack up your car, grab a few friends and some snow-shoes, and hit the National Parks for a couple days. Getting out of the valley will surely clear your head and make the coming weeks a little less stressful.

Inevitably, college is a stress-inducing experience, but with enough breaks, good food, laughs and a change in scenery, the stress can be kept to a manageable level. Take some deep breaths and save the real panic for midterms.

f.rhinehart@dailyutahchronicle.com

@Unchained116

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