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We all know that reducing stress is necessary to think clearly and be able to retain more information. So why is it that very few of us actually do it?

Although taking a break from studying will obviously cost you some time in the short term, you will ultimately gain that time back in productivity when you are more clear minded and attentive to your studies.

So here are 10 activities you can do to put your mind at ease. Oh, and did I mention you can do all of them in under 30 minutes!

1. Walk. This is one of my go-to stress reducers. The perfect triad of getting out in nature, breathing fresh air, and releasing the pent up muscle tension from hunching over those textbooks. Walk slowly around the block, or mix in a light jog for some extra stress reduction.

2. Draw. Let your creative juices flow. All you need is a pencil, paper and an at least semi-functioning right brain.

3. Listen to music. And dance around like a crazy person. I’m talking spastic and erratic here. While you’re at it, go ahead and sing at the top of your lungs, too. Anything to get your mind off that big exam next week, am I right?

4. Shower. Call me crazy, but this is my first line of defense against all nursing school stress. The hot water is calming, and let’s face it, we’ve all had great ideas in the shower. Use it to help retain the information you just learned.

5. Clean. Two for one: not only is cleaning therapeutic in itself, but the end result will allow you to be more organized and feel calmer while you study. Double score!

6. Take a nap. Does this even need an explanation? Sleep = brain reboot. Just make sure you don’t sleep too long, or you may wake up groggy.

7. Phone a friend. Talk it out or cry it out. Whatever you need to do to get that huge weight off your shoulders. Develop relationships with your nursing classmates. They won’t make fun of you when you call in panic. They get you.

8. Watch TV. Even better if it’s a funny one! Laughing reduces stress and helps you forget about school, if even just for a short while.

9. Write a blog. Writing may help you express thoughts, emotions and energy that might be causing you stress. In addition, these thoughts may be holding you back from fully focusing on your studies.

10. Deep breathe. Pretend you’re using an incentive spirometer and breathe in slowly and deeply. Inhale oxygen, exhale carbond dioxide…that’s the stuff.

Ahhh…I feel calmer already.

The key to stress relief is to practice stress reducing techniques frequently and regularly.

The less stressed you are, the more your body can handle stress when it does come up. And let’s face it, we’re in nursing school, stress is inevitable. So let’s be proactive about it!

I challenge you to try two of these each day this week, and post below on which one was most effective for you.

Do you have another stress-reducing idea that can be done in under 30 minutes?