OPINION: These hobbies can help relieve stress and improve overall well being

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Being a student is tough enough in itself. It’s common knowledge that many, just like myself, have jobs and other obligations on top of it. This can make the balance between work and a social life difficult to maintain, and can often feel overwhelming. 

Finding a healthy outlet to release the built-up stress and frustration that comes with this is extremely important. Over the years, I’ve found a few different ways to cope with stress in a healthy way and would like to share for those who haven’t found something that works for them just yet.


Music has a number of health benefits tied to it. An article from John Hopkins Medicine states that “listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.” 

Music has even been proven to trigger the production of dopamine in our bodies!

There are many different ways to use music as a tool to help with relieving stress. For some, just listening to their favorite songs is enough to relax them and bring them to a more positive or comforted state. 

For those who would like to turn music into an activity, there are a number of ways to get involved. Curating playlists is a great way to focus your attention to dividing certain songs into themed playlists for yourself and others to enjoy. 

This option is a bit more involved, but learning to play an instrument is a wonderful way to channel creativity into art and express it in a new way. 

For Apple users, Garageband is a free tool to create music from your iPhone or other Apple devices. There are also alternatives to Garageband for those without access such as BandLab and Walk Band.

I’ve played guitar for about two years, and songwriting has been more than helpful in allowing me to get my emotions, whether happy or sad, out of my system and take weight off my shoulders.


[A student colors in a notebook.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

I know this is one that everyone is constantly drilling, but journaling really lives up to its hype. According to an article from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, journaling has many benefits for students such as improvements to mental health, boosting self-confidence and improving emotional intelligence. 

Journaling allows for thoughts and worries to be outwardly expressed and gives people the ability to sort through them and find the source of these emotions. 

Along with being used as a place to rant, journaling can become an activity to practice writing positive affirmations and a place to organize ideas to help with setting goals. 

Journaling is also a very accessible activity. People can journal in a notebook, on their phone, on a laptop or even on some scratch paper from the library. It is a place of no judgment and, in the long run, helps strengthen communication and writing skills.


Sounds a bit childish, doesn’t it? Even so, coloring has many health benefits and helps to promote mindfulness and accidently coloring outside the lines from time to time will help you learn to accept imperfections. 

According to an article from the Mayo Clinic Health System, coloring can help improve sleep and decrease things like body aches, heart rate and feelings of depression and anxiety. 

One of the reasons I enjoy coloring so much is because I can also listen to my favorite podcast and learn about new things while doing so. I have found that I have the ability to listen with more focus when I have an activity, like coloring, to block out other thoughts and distractions. 

Coloring books and basic art supplies like crayons or color pencils aren’t very expensive and can be found at places like the dollar store. 

Coloring is the perfect activity for practicing being in the moment. It relaxes the brain and is a very low stakes activity where people are well within their right to make mistakes and be as creative as they want!

I hope that if you’re someone struggling with finding a way to relieve stress, you attempt one of these activities. If you’ve already tried them and felt they didn’t help, I hope that I have given a different perspective on them and you consider giving it another go.

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