Image is of a set of white over the ear headphones in a green grassy field with a lone daisy poking out from in the middle of it. To represent listening to music in nature.

Headphones in Nature / Image by Simedblack via Pixabay

It’s a stressful time of year for many students. The spring semester is almost over, and exams and final project deadlines loom ahead. But that doesn’t mean the next couple of weeks need be filled with dread. 

Here are my top four stressbusters to help you feel a little more at ease during the home stretch of this school year.

1. Listen to a podcast and do some cleaning.

I love escaping into a good podcast. It’s like reading but a little more entertaining and I don’t have to stress my eyes out anymore than school already does. Podcasts also motivate me to clean my house that seemingly mounts with dishes and laundry whenever I am feeling stressed. I am always surprised by how much better I feel by just having a clean space to come home to. Here is a brief list of some of my favourite podcasts to listen to while I scrub away my homework anxiety:

  • Against the Odds – This is a series by Wondery where co-hosts Mike Corey and Cassie De Pecol take you on immersive real life stories of survival—including mine collapses and plane crashes. You’ll be glad you’re only experiencing them through your earbuds.
  • Revisionist History – Ask a group of ten people their top three podcasts and I guarantee you this one will pop up a few times. Host Malcolm Gladwell takes you on a trip down history’s winding and potholed memory lane. You’re along for the ride as he highlights, detours from, and re-examines pieces of history in ways you never thought would be connected.
  • Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel – I am fascinated by relationships. Esther Perel’s podcast delves into the stories of real-life couples contending with real-life struggles. Esther provides tidbits of information as she counsels couples of all kinds. 
  • Ologies – Let host Alie Ward whisk you away into the world of interesting and bizarre science, and you’ll walk away with a little token of weird knowledge—like drunk butterflies and screamology—to bring to your next hangout. 

2. Go for a walk and listen to some music.

Going out in nature and soaking in some sunlight is always a great idea. Take your earbuds with you and listen to the playlist that seems to fill your bucket with every listen. I know mine has a lot of 80’s pop like “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmic and 70’s bops like “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone that put a smile on my face every time. Or, just listen to the sounds of nature around you; the bird calls, the water flowing, and the crunch of the earth under your feet. Here are three quick walks I recommend:

  • For an ocean view: Neck Point or Piper’s Lagoon
  • For a spot close to the Nanaimo VIU campus: Colliery Dam or Buttertubs Marsh
  • For a longer walk: Westwood Lake or Morrell Sanctuary 

3. Meet a friend for a drink.

Catching up with a good friend is a great stress relief and form of social support that gives both of you a little self care. For coffee shops I recommend Brud House, the Vault, or Bocca Café. For an evening drink and snacks, I recommend White Sails, Arbutus Distillery, or the VIU Students’ Union Pub.

4. Phone a family member or friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

The other day I called my grandma. I was in a crappy mood and just wanted to pout about how stressed I was, but then she popped into my head. On a whim I called her. I told her I was thinking of her and I loved her. Her happy reaction took my bad mood away instantly and I felt refreshed. 

5. Book a counselling appointment.

I saved the best for last. When I am super stressed out and I feel lost, I make a counselling appointment and my therapist is able to help me navigate how I’m feeling. We have amazing (and free) counsellors at VIU, so try them out!


Sabrina is a fifth-year Psychology and Creative Writing student. Her poem "They Are Waiting" won last year's Portent Prize and was featured in Portal's 2021 Magazine. She loves exploring Vancouver Island, telling people about the UFO Landing Pad in her hometown, and is a wannabe free diver. In her last year of schooling she has realized just how much potential there is in being a student at VIU.

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