5 Fun Ways to De-stress

Monday, April 11, 2016

Grad school can definitely have its high and low moments, and we can all agree there are some weeks that are a unique kind of hell. Thankfully, I’ve found some equally unique ways to de-stress and have some awesome times to help me get through the first two years.

Trust me – these are worth your precious free time.

1. Hammocking

What?! Is this a thing you can do away from a beachfront resort? YES! It is the BEST thing. That’s why it’s number one on this list. In case you don’t make it to the end of my article, I at least want to make sure you get to hear about this hammocking business.

There’s a particular brand that’s really popular called “Eno,” so East Coasters fondly refer to this pastime as “#enoing”. Seriously, Google or Instagram this hashtag. I don’t think it’s as common on the West/Best Coast, since I hadn’t heard of it until recently – perhaps I’m just behind the times. So how’d I come to love this and why is it so great?

When I went home to Hawaii this summer, my dad had gotten the Eno brand hammock set-up. This rig allows you to set up camp pretty much anywhere with two pole/tree-like objects, so it’s really portable and only takes about two minutes.

I went to my favorite beaches around Oahu pretty much every night for the few weeks I was back home and set up the hammock most days. I fell asleep every. single. time. Just a few inches off the ground swept me away from worrying about everything. I even stopped obsessing over my imminent Boards Part 1 score and forgot that I had to go back to school in a week.

2. Beachcombing

We are so fortunate to live within walking/running/biking/muni distance from the beach – take advantage of it! About a month into dental school, I finally got the opportunity to head down to the beach.

On the way there, I joked to my friend that Hawaii locals need to touch the ocean once a month or we shrivel up and perish, but in a way it was kind of true. My short time at the beach was rejuvenating, and the beach combing yielded some little treasures.

Beachcombing is easy, free, and you get so excited and caught up scouring the beach that you can forget about that cadaver waiting for you for just a little while. Plus, I think the fresh beach air finally blew away that lovely anatomy smell.

If you’re simple like me, you’ll be ecstatic to find a whole sand dollar for the first time. A few times later, I even found one alive (they’re purple instead of white). However, if you’re really fancy like @beachglassjewelry on Instagram, you can turn some beach glass into stunning jewelry with that good-ol’ high speed drill and some ortho wire tools (for my dental nerds out there).

Pro-Tip: You should bundle up for SF beaches if you’re from warmer areas. Also, I always keep my beach mat, a towel, and water (for washing off sand) in a beach-ready bag for impromptu beach visits – grab and go!

3. Slow-Cooker Cooking

As mundane as it may sound, slow-cookers are actually pretty exciting in addition to being extremely practical. You can basically cook for the whole week and not eat something unhealthy, plain, and boring every day.

I asked for a slow-cooker for Christmas and made a New Year resolution to try a new recipe almost every week and use it to save time and money. So far, my favorites are honey glazed chicken, yellow curry, and kalua pig – all from scratch, all healthy, all tender deliciousness.

The first time I used my slow-cooker, I was so excited I couldn’t stop checking in on it to see what was going on. It’s like having any new gadget. After that, I think the fun part is just trying these amazing new recipes you couldn’t have made before (or at least not as well).

The best part is that you don’t have to be the Next Food Network Star to enjoy these treats and impress your friends / potential significant others. Next week, I’m making bbq ribs!

Pro-Tip: Read up a little about how to maintain your slow cooker and rules about slow-cooking (i.e. salting meat and things like that become different than regular cooking).

4. Bubble Soccer

I actually haven’t tried this one yet, but it looks so ridiculously fun it’s going on the list anyway.

Basically, you don a gigantic bubble suit with a limited field of vision, run around, and try to play soccer. It looks like a hilarious Japanese game show.

Not only would this work up a sweat, but it’d be hard to feel all those pressures to succeed from inside so many layers of plastic and air. I can’t wait to get out there and playfully try to attack a soccer ball with my frustrations.

5. SF Symphony Student Tickets

Music translates across the world, and our city is definitely no exception. The SF Symphony will whisk you away from your worries with everything from classical to modern to jazz to rock, and sometimes their musical talent is even combined with film reels – football, Christmas special, cartoons, everything!

Besides the therapeutic aspect of the music itself, we can all agree that going to the symphony is classy. Who wouldn’t mind a chance to clean-up and look a little fancy? There’s even a ritzy bar for you while you wait or head out for intermission. This is the perfect intimate night out with a close friend or date.

Since we’re all students, we can use our UCSF IDs to sign up for student accounts online. This will give you access to their rush tickets that go on sale a few days before a concert for only $20, and I’m not talking about nosebleed seats. You could be in the front row or even box seats next to someone who paid hundreds of dollars — any seat that’s available when you buy.

Pro-Tips: Never been before? Don’t worry! There’s actually a pamphlet you can read with etiquette guidelines when you purchase a ticket.

These are the two questions people ask me the most though: Dress code? You actually don’t have to dress formally. You can wear something casual. Personally, I try to wear something a little nicer than usual – as if I had a good day with enough time for hair and make-up and decided to dress nicely for clinic. If you do want to go all-out, there are many people (especially with kids) who dress to the nines!

When to clap? I think this is most confusing for new-goers. There are actually different rules depending on which experts you ask too. Most musicians I’ve asked say you’re not supposed to clap in between individual movements (just like no clapping in between scenes of a play), and you can clap at the end of the entire concerto, symphony, etc.

Also, some pieces may surprise you, so make sure you don’t clap before the song is even over. Your best bet is to just wait until you see everyone else clapping too (the front row people are usually a good guide).