Although campus is partially open and more students are living in or near New York City, the negative impacts of the pandemic are still present. Long hours on Zoom alone have caused common feelings of fatigue among many students and teachers, with peace of mind becoming increasingly rare during these anxiety-inducing times. Here are some activity ideas that are both easily accessible and fun to help you relieve stress and regain a sense of serenity.

Adult coloring

In recent years, adult coloring has become quite the sensation. It’s an activity best enjoyed with music, a podcast, or even a lighthearted TV show. Coloring books can be purchased on Amazon and other platforms, but an easy way to start coloring would be to simply search up free pages online. This is a great activity for those who want to transform negative energy into a burst of creativity during a stressful midterm season.

Some coloring resources include:

Crayola:

You can download a variety of free coloring pages on Crayola’s website. You can choose from different categories depending on the mood you’re in. From simple Disney designs to more intricate and complex adult designs, you can choose how you want to spend your time.

Secret Garden:

This is an adult coloring book that can be purchased on Amazon and from other independent bookstores. It has many pages of garden-themed coloring sheets, coupled with hidden clues that you can find. With 11 million copies sold worldwide, this coloring book is proven to be an effective remedy for many.

Meditation

In the midst of midterms, it’s easy to get carried away by the stress of essay deadlines and proctored Zoom exams. Meditating for 10 minutes each day can significantly improve your mood and help you take a much-needed break. With videos or apps like Calm and Headspace, even beginners can be guided through the process. Headspace has a student discount that makes the services much more affordable at $10 a year, rather than the regular $70. The app and online platform Smiling Mind is not only free, but also sorts different meditations by their function, target age, and more. Another way to meditate is simply sitting in silence or listening to soft background music provided by apps like Tide. If you would rather not be alone, check out live meditations over Zoom hosted by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center every weekday.

Yoga

The best part about yoga is that it can help you practice mindfulness while getting exercise. Yoga can be done anywhere with a mat or soft surface for comfort at any time of the day, although many prefer to do it as a morning ritual. Doing yoga first thing in the morning can help you attain a positive mindset for the rest of the day. This yoga playlist on YouTube is specifically designed to help aid virtual learning for students, teachers, parents, and caretakers. The medical center also provides virtual yoga and mindful movement classes. For something with a little less commitment, try searching for yoga videos on social media. If you’re spending hours scrolling through TikTok or Instagram Reels anyway, you might as well check out the short clips under #yoga or #yogapractice. Make sure to save them for home or your dorm room, though. No one wants to see you awkwardly attempt a Downward Dog pose while studying in Butler 301—the giant reference room at the center of Butler, more commonly known as Ref. For those who experience Zoom fatigue, following these videos could be a great way to relax and pick up yoga while you’re at it!

Pet therapy

If you are lucky enough to have a pet at home, whether it be an adorable dog or a cute cat, a great way to de-stress would be to spend some time with it. If you don’t have a pet, visiting a neighbor’s pet—following pandemic precautions—or hugging your stuffed animal (we won’t judge!) could be a good way to engage in this activity. Spotify now has an interesting new service that tailors a playlist for you and your pet based on your song preferences Check it out here.

If you’re missing the pet therapy provided on campus at times, fear not! The Well-Being and Health Promotion Program at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center has moved its pet therapy to a virtual space. You can subscribe to its weekly newsletter to learn more.

Music

Finding a good playlist to study or chill to can definitely impact your workflow and help you stay focused for a longer period of time. If you’re looking for good song recommendations for your morning commute, while in the shower, or at any other time, make sure to check out Spectrum’s Spotify playlists. If you don’t have a Spotify account, make sure to check out its Premium student plan, which gives you access to Spotify Premium, Hulu, and SHOWTIME for $4.99 a month. In one click, you’ll be able to binge-watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” while listening to Spectrum’s Spotify playlists with no ad breaks. What a treat.

YouTube also has many great calming study playlists that you can check out. Playlists like this one use relaxing background instrumentals that can not only help you through a study session but also work for a meditation break or a quick nap. Overall, the best way to regain peace is to just block out some time regularly to engage in a fun, calming activity.

Staff writer Charlotte Wu can be contacted at charlotte.wu@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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