If you’ve ever wanted to escape into another world, water is the answer. When you submerge yourself, everything falls away; you hear mere murmurs or actually nothing of the outside yourself. The water envelopes you, cradles you, shelters you. For me, a lifelong swimmer, the water is my home. But for humans, submerged in liquid is how we began; it only makes sense that it’s where we belong.
So next time you feel stressed, put on your cap and goggles and hop into the nearest body of water for some laps, or just float around — whichever suits your fancy.
Hitting an inanimate object is immensely gratifying, but beyond that, boxing is the kind of workout that takes physical strength and endurance as well as mental awareness. You focus so hard on making your punches strong and your technique correct and work so hard during the workout that you don’t have the mental capacity to think about anything else.
I do classes at Title Boxing Club, where fifteen minutes of high intensity cardio is followed by eight three minute rounds on the bag, and ends off with fifteen minutes of core, leaving your body exhausted but your spirits high and your mind clear. For more boxing workouts, you can try the Title in your city, Everybody Fights in Boston or New York, or The Ring or Back Bay Boxing in Boston.
Probably the most obvious exercise of them all, but it’s well-known because it works. Whether you’re into Vinyasa yoga, hot yoga, aerial yoga… the one thing they all have in common is clearing your mind, focusing on the present, and being in tune with your body. You learn to let go of what’s troubling you, of any obligations you have in the future, of what you’re upset about in the past, and be in the now.
It takes mental discipline to truly clear your mind, but once you you get there, you feel at peace. Tip: If you have to think of something, imagine staring at a blank white wall.
Sometimes you just need some fresh air. Although walking outside is a good start, hiking has the added benefit of getting you deeper into nature and is more physically demanding. The greatest difference, however, is the act of climbing a mountain.
I’m tempted to quote Miley Cyrus here, but I’ll refrain. Instead, I’ll tell you my personal experience.
Honestly, I used to hate hiking. My parents would always drag us on hikes as kids and I would pout and complain the entire way up the mountain. But at the top, when it’s quiet and you can hear the wind whoosh and see the clouds above you (or maybe even below you), you feel like you’re on top of the world. Suddenly, your problems seem small and insignificant because they are. Because you’re standing on top of a freaking mountain and you can’t even see people on the ground.
Now, every time I hike it’s a blessing. I’m glad to be out in nature, to have legs that can carry me up the mountain, lungs that can inhale the thin air. And when I get to the top, I have that same feeling of forgetting all my problems in the scope of larger things. Nature has a funny way of making everything else seem small.
There are some people who run every day, like my roommate. It’s a routine for them, a daily habit. For me, I typically prefer different types of exercise (except when I’m training for a race), but there is something immensely therapeutic about running.
It’s because it’s just you and the pavement. Or if you prefer to run inside, just you and the treadmill. The beat of your heart. The steady pounding of your feet on the ground. The inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale of your breath. There’s a rhythm, a pulse. You don’t have to go far or fast to reap the benefits of running; you just have to do it.
The runner’s high is real. But it’s also the run itself, the journey, that helps clear your mind. On long runs I’ve worked out my problems and answered the questions that have been bothering me for so long. On tempo runs I’ve pushed myself and realized that my limits mean nothing. Either way, afterward is a sense of accomplishment, of exuberance, of clarity.
I’d be a liar if I said I was a good surfer. Or even an okay surfer. But you don’t need to be a good or mediocre surfer to get stress-relief from it (just make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing with you).
It’s learning to ride the wave, to time yourself correctly, to letting go of all your fears and just stand up. And being okay with falling or failing, but also celebrating each exhilarating rush as you stand and ride the wave successfully.
There’s many obvious parallels to life, but the thing that matters most is being in the moment, taking each wave one by one, and learning from each success and failure.
This isn’t your traditional workout, but for anyone who’s laughed so hard their stomach hurt, you know that laughing works your abs. And, more importantly, works your heart — with genuine laughter, how can you worry about anything else? So whether that’s watching cat YouTube videos, hanging out with your best friend, or browsing Reddit, find your form of laughter.
Written by Campus Rep, Nancy Chen
Edited by Executive Assistant, Addie Van Rijn