It’s safe to say we have lived through an absurd amount of historical events in the past year, and stress levels are high across the board. Add this to juggling exams, papers, jobs, friends and clubs, and you’ve got a recipe for some stressed-out students. De-stressing on a typical college student’s budget eliminates spa treatments or professional massages, but there are cheap alternatives that bring the same sense of zen and address all the dimensions of health and wellness. Here are 5 holistic-health-and-wellness-inspired ways to de-stress on a tight budget:

1. Download Sanvello.

Get in touch with your emotions! Sanvello is a name you’ve probably heard in passing, but never really knew what it was or how you could use it. The Sanvello app is a resource that Syracuse University students have free access to when they sign up using their Net IDs. Beyond its pleasing aesthetics, Sanvello offers a personalized experience for each user with their daily mood check-ins and recommended content based on your answers. Other services include mindfulness activities, meditation and yoga classes, therapy sessions and more. Learn more on the Barnes Center at The Arch Sanvello webpage and download through your device’s app store.

2. Try yoga classes (online or at the Barnes Center).

Move your body! Nothing says relaxation like a yoga class. A study published by Harvard University Health (2020) showed that regular yoga practice:

  • Reduced perceived stress and anxiety
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Made breathing easier

The Barnes Center at The Arch offers in-person yoga classes every day of the week except for Saturdays that you can sign up for on the Wellness Portal. If practicing from the comfort of your home is more your jam, there are infinite free options available on YouTube. For example, YogaWithAdriene, the most subscribed to yoga channel on YouTube, has been active since 2012 and has a massive archive of videos for you to enjoy.

3. Cook a new dish.

Stimulate your brain! Yes, takeout is tasty, but those bills add up quickly. Cooking at home not only saves money, but it’s better for you and food straight up tastes better when you’ve made it yourself. Whether or not you are a savant in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe is a fun, adventurous, delicious way to distract your mind from the stresses of life. Just google “Easy ___ Recipe”, and cook away. Dorm lifers fret not—we have not forgotten you. There is a plethora of “mug” and “dorm-friendly” recipes available on the internet. Mug cakes, mug pizzas, mug mac-n-cheese, no-bake dessert bars, fancied-up ramen, the list goes on. Get creative and get cookin’!

Need some more inspiration, plan a cozy day and we’ll give you a recipe to try!

4. Connect with your friends (safely).

Get social! The pandemic has been hard to cope with for many reasons, but for college students, a large part of the struggle is having to be apart from friends and tone down their social lives. Syracuse University is aware of the mental toll this can take on young adults, for whom socialization is an essential part of their college growth and experience. Organize your friend group to go on an outdoor adventure during the day, like free cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at Drumlins, or join an Orange After Dark activity at night, like Live Action Among Us. While these virtual events are not the same as a party or hanging out in person with all your friends, safely socializing now means that we can get back to normal as soon as possible.

5. Clean your room.

Feel comfortable in your space! No, it is not the most glamorous suggestion on this list (boo, cleaning!), but cleaning your space is arguably the best thing you could do to decrease stress and anxiety. Studies show that a cluttered space “can negatively impact mental well-being… clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,” (Beau, 2019). Cleaning can also be fun! Throw on a pump-up playlist and sing and dance while de-cluttering your space. You will reap the mental health benefits of this immediately and continuously.

Remember to take care of yourself! There are always ways, even when on a tight schedule and budget. Learn even more ways to explore holistic health and wellness by attending a Wellness Leadership Institute workshop!

Written by Cecelia Kersten ’23, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication