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Three Ways to De-Stress Around Gainesville

As the new year and the new semester begin, we all get so excited about  the opportunity for a fresh start.

But with all the anticipation of seeing our friends again, starting classes and setting new goals for ourselves, we often forget, even if for a brief second, the stress and anxiety that can accompany these things.

During the first week of school, I became overwhelmed trying to balance classes, aside from LSAT prep, extracurricular activities, a job and just keeping myself happy and healthy.

I thought I could handle everything myself, but I didn’t realize that I had so many options and resources at my fingertips in Gainesville that could help me disconnect and take a break from the things that add on to my daily stress.

Gainesville is underrated, and yes it has taken me three years at this school to admit this.

There are a variety of local events and destinations around Gainesville that serve as great distractions.

These are places to take breaks from all the daily pressures most students carry.

Here are just a few places and resources in the Gainesville area that provide some calming activities, or even just a place to talk to someone. 


Local Gainesville events 

When I first moved to Gainesville from South Florida, I had a hard time adjusting.

All I could see were the differences between my home and Gainesville.

But once I allowed myself to be opened-minded and explore the new area around me I found so many events and places that made this place feel more like my home.

There are so many farmer’s markets, food truck rallies and art shows here in Gainesville, more than I would have imagined.

These are events that I’ve come to love. Spending a Saturday morning at a farmer’s market (the one in nearby Haile Plantation is my favorite) allows me to do something fun and refreshing.

It’s easy to feel stuck on UF’s campus when you’re constantly going to school and spending most of your free time doing stuff around campus.

You can fall into a slump.

By taking a few hours out of your day and going to one of the many flea markets at Depot Park or a farmer’s market at Haile Plantation, you can do something local, but just different enough, that it helps you feel a little less trapped in routine.

Personally, feeling trapped in a schedule is sometimes a factor of my stress levels and general mood.

It is so easy to find a place or event that can help you feel more relaxed, and you can give yourself a fun and re-energizing break.

By the way, all of these events are super accessible through Facebook events.

Just look through the local page, and you may even find some of your friends are interested in the same events! 

Paynes Prairie

Gainesville is a beautiful location that has many parks and natural springs in its surrounding area.

But you don’t have to go far to enjoy the natural beauty that can be found in Gainesville.

If you drive about 15 minutes away from UF, you’ll find Paynes Prairie, a state park where you can take an easy hike, walk up a watchtower for a beautiful view or look around to see if you can spot a gator lurking.

Being outdoors in the fresh air and just taking a short walk surrounded by amazing views can make you feel more relaxed.

The sounds of nature have a special way of making your problems feel like they don’t matter as much.

When we set aside time for just ourselves, where we can put things into perspective, it allows for all of these things like school that are stressing us out feel not as debilitating. 

Resources at UF

There are some great resources available for its students at UF.

Rec Sports offers a relaxing yoga classes for when you want to get into a more relaxed headspace.

Freshman year was really difficult for me. I was desperately looking for something that would help me feel more at peace mentally and that would also allow me to work out my frustrations.

After taking my first vinyasa yoga class on campus, I realized I had found the perfect workout class to help me manage my stress and overthinking.

This year I even found out that the gyms on campus not only offer yoga classes, but also meditation classes.

There are a variety of different classes offered at the gyms on campus that you can take to stay healthy while also letting off some steam. 

The counseling and wellness center at the University of Florida is another resource available to students.

I spoke to Pat Dinmore, an AWARE ambassador at the Counseling and Wellness Center, about some of the resources available to students through the CWC. 

“UF has the counseling and wellness center which offers both group and individual counseling for students. Many students will start off with a triage appointment to assess the students’ needs, and guide them towards the right resource for them,” Dinmore said. “We also offer several weekly group workshops throughout the semester that don’t require any sort of appointment or sign up.” 

One of Dinmore’s favorites is called Take a Hike.

He said that you go on a group walk around Lake Alice and other parts of the southwest campus for about an hour and talk about anything to help destress and be outside for an hour.

All of the CWC’s resources are free for UF students enrolled in at least one credit hour per semester.

The stress brought on by school and just being in your 20s trying to figure everything out can be a lot to handle.

Sometimes it might be hard to realize how much stress might impact our well-being, whether physically or mentally.

If you allow yourself to do small activities or seek out help intermittently before you start to feel overwhelmed, you can prevent some of your daily stresses.

Remember that as important as school is, your well-being should always be your priority.

Caroline is a fourth-year sociology major at the University of Florida. She is from south Florida and loves to travel, cook, read, and listen to true crime podcasts.
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