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7 Poems to Read When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed or Stressed

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious these days, reading poetry may help you refocus and relax. Shorter than any short story, it may help you get back into reading books, or provide a much needed change of pace.


These seven poems help calm me down and ground me when I’m feeling stressed about the future or the day to day.

“Acquainted with the Night,” Robert Frost

This poem’s rhythm and imagery feel like a visualization exercise — the cadence is similar to speech, and the description easily transports me to another setting. Though walking alone in the rain may seem like a frightening idea, Frost writes about it in a way that makes it feel calm and meditative.

Read the full poem here.

“I do not love you except because I love you,” Pablo Neruda

While the topic of this poem, all-consuming and mercurial love, is not exactly calming, the way Neruda writes about it always calms me. The repetition and conversational tone of the poem help put me in his shoes, and puts me in the mood to reflect on my relationships.


Read the full poem here.

“Four-Leaf Clover,” Ella Higginson

A simple poem with an ABAB rhyme scheme and a message about hope, this poem is so relentlessly optimistic, it’s impossible to read without feeling more cheerful. In today’s atmosphere, it can be hard to stay positive when things are constantly changing around us, and reading a poem from the 1800s helps me reflect on the past, instead of worrying about the future.


Read the full poem here.

“When we are on the right track we are rewarded with joy,” Brian Teare

A longer poem with a different structure, this poem is one that benefits from rereadings, which takes my mind off other things, as I go through it multiple times trying to fully understand what Teare is writing about. My favorite part is the “sharp tenderness toward common objects” that he describes, especially as I look at things from my childhood while I’m staying at home.


Read the full poem here.

“Interrogation of a Hanged Man,” Monica Youn

With its simple question and answer format, this poem is easy to read, but the answers it provides are vague and invite more reflection. It’s an ideal poem to read out loud, or whisper to yourself as a grounding exercise.


Read the full poem here.

“Hymn To Time,” Ursula K. Le Guin

While it may feel like we have too much time right now, things will pass, and soon we’ll be back to wishing we had more time in the day. With its beautiful imagery, this poem is vaguely reminiscent of fantasy or sci-fi, which is what Le Guin is well-known for.


Read the full poem here.

“Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Shel Silverstein

A classic from childhood, though this poem is more upbeat and cheery, it can be relaxing to read something familiar. All of Silverstein’s poems are amusing and comical, making them perfect for taking your mind off of things.


Read the full poem here.

Hopefully, these short poems provide a sense of calm with everything going on. Not only are they much shorter than books, but it is also easier to find them online—making them perfect to read while we’re all staying at home.

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Angelina is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in Public Relations. Originally from the Bay Area, California, she is currently still adjusting to experiencing real seasons. Her hobbies include looking for cheap flights, listening to "Why'd You Push that Button," and going to Trader Joe's.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.