How One STEM Major Uses Media to De-Stress Mindfully


Vintage record player on windowsill. (Photo by Alex Green | Courtesy Pexels)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


With global events of the past few years, it’s become particularly important for students to take time for themselves and protect their wellbeing. But how do different media types play a role in that process? Here’s what detoxing through media looks like for one student.

Detoxing with Sound

Rachel Somers is a physics major with an astronomy and astrophysics emphasis, as well as a minor in computer science. With all of that coursework on their plate, finding things that bring them joy is critical to maintaining their mental health. 

“Because I spend so much time in school focusing on STEM stuff I find that usually when I want to relax, that’s when I embrace more of the artsy things I like. Music is a huge one for me,” Somers said.

Their music taste includes artists such as Matt Maltese, Will Wood, Haley Heynderickx and most recently, Freddie Dredd. With a music taste as wide and varied as their academic pursuit, it comes as no surprise that Somers finds joy in many different mediums but is selective about how they spend their time.

“I don’t really go for TV shows and stuff because I feel like I can’t sit there and do nothing,” they said. “That’s why I say video games are a really nice way to feel like I’m doing something but also really enjoying my time and still relaxing.”

Somers stressed the importance of positive media consumption that sparks happiness rather than mindless scrolling through TikTok or engaging with social media just for the sake of it. Instead, they prefer to play cozy video games like “Stardew Valley,” a popular farming simulator and NPC-driven story game where pseudo-productivity blends with relaxing gameplay.

Somers emphasized the importance of scheduling downtime to avoid becoming more burned out and tired. One way that they incorporate it into their busy schedule? Using the time between their classes as a break from school and homework. 

“Rather than working on homework or something, take that time to just relax cause you’re doing a lot of stuff already like going to classes,” Somers said. “That’s a lot of work and you know, tiring on the brain. Then you end up being more tired throughout the day.” 

A Happy Medium 

Whether it’s 15 minutes between classes, or, for me, a two-hour round-trip train commute, fitting time to relax with a piece of media into your busy schedule is vital. Video games, music, an episode of your favorite podcast or reading a book can all be great ways to set aside time for something that brings you joy. It doesn’t need to be “productive” media consumption either. It can be a chapter, a few minutes of listening, or gaming for fun.

Whether you’re a double major or a STEM-intensive student like Somers, making time to enjoy a comfort game or book should be a priority for your mental health and should help you find things you enjoy during busier points in the semester.


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