Back to the Kid’s Table: Using Regression as a Stress Reliever

In colleges across America, the two first weeks of December are some of the most stressful days of the year. Final exams and projects are all crammed into this tiny time frame where a semester’s worth of knowledge is expected to be condensed into one effort. A popular way many college students deal with that stress is to regress. In the past few years, puppy petting sessions have been a hit on campuses with scientific evidence starting to back up why these are proven stress relievers. Here are four ways you can alleviate the anxiety brought on by finals by turning back the clock and not acting your age.

Use Coloring Books

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by Karen Mardahl, “228-365 Coloring book” under CC by SA 2.0

Being able to go from concentrating on everything to just your pen and your paper is relaxing. Coloring books are a creative way for destressing while also expressing yourself.  In the art therapy world, mandalas have long been considered a healthy way to cope with anxiety. I find this activity is most useful when done by yourself with some music playing in the background. A study published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology shows that when people do creative activities away from work, they are more adept at handling stress and completing work. So in a way, coloring is helping you prepare for finals.

Watch Disney Anything

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By Danielle Elder, “Disney Movies” under CC by 2.0

Or Dreamworks, if you grew up in that kind of family. Watching classic childhood favorites is an easy way to cope with the uncertainty of the world by using the familiarity of nostalgia. You’re seeing something you know well and have formed your own attachment to. It’s probably the happiest form of escapism that exists; there’s no extremely crude jokes or dark subject matter, there’s catchy songs and happy endings. Personally, my favorite is Disney’s patriarchy pommeling feminist classic Mulan. Eddie Murphy’s Mushu provides the perfect amount of comedic relief and the plot is serious enough to make you reflect, but in the end everything is ok.  With its themes of adversity and empowerment, the movie leaves you with the feeling you can conquer anything (also the finale song features the ultimate collaboration of 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder.) To make it an even better experience, find a group of people to watch the movie with you and let the reminiscing begin.

Braid Friendship Bracelets

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by Nina Helmer, “Bracelets” under CC by NC-ND 2.0

Go back to the summer camp days by braiding some friendship bracelets. All you need is thread, which can be found online or at your local craft store. My favorite design to make is a Chevron, but there are plenty of guides online that you can follow. No matter what pattern you do, when it comes down to it, all you’re doing is knotting knots. The repetition provides a calming sense of order and clarity. Unlike the other two activities, this one makes a great fashion accessory or simple Christmas gift.

Break out the Play-Doh

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by Dennis Brekke, “Play-Doh” under CC by 2.0

Finals bring a lot emotions: panic, dread, frustration, anger, despair. For some people, being able to squeeze, pound and break something without actually doing harm can be extremely cathartic. Play-Doh is like a moldable stress ball that is usually encouraged for little kids. Along with being therapeutic in a tactile sense, playing with Play-Doh is also an outlet for creative expression. Decompressing with a can of this stuff is an inexpensive alternative to smashing whatever fragile objects are in your dorm or going the teen angst route and screaming into your pillow.

Drinking Juicy Juice boxes during any of these activities is an unnecessary but nice nostalgic touch as well. Most importantly, remember to act your real age when doing the work for studying or completing final projects and not the one you’re regressing to.

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