College can be stressful on its own, but especially requires stress-relieving habits each day in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As humans, we naturally do not respond well to uncertainty and change, and not knowing what will happen in the next few months paired with major lifestyle changes takes a lot of adjusting to. While I spend the next few months finishing up my senior year online, I plan to prioritize forming good daily habits to relieve stress. When all is uncertain, OVERPLAN THE HECK OUT OF YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE and hope this will keep you optimistic 😊!

While my top stress relievers may not work for or be available to everyone, hopefully any readers can use this as an example of forming daily and weekly habits of any kind that relieve stress. Schedule them and stick to it!

Form a YouTube workout routine (5-7 times/week)

Daily workouts have always been my main way to keep my mind clear and happy. Even before the gyms shut down, I had been getting deep into the black hole of thousands of YouTube workouts. FitnessBlender’s YouTube channel is my personal favorite!

Do nature walks or accessible hikes (2-3 times/week)

Hiking is a great social distancing activity. Take time to appreciate the beauty of our earth and enjoy the solitude of nature!

The top of a mountain hike at Big Bear. A breathtaking view!

Get some vitamin D (7+ times/week, hopefully)

Remember that social distancing and self-isolation doesn’t mean becoming a vampire that never sees the sun! My mood almost instantly improves by daily trips to my rooftop to soak up the sun for a few minutes. Even opening windows and getting fresh air is a great way to feel re-energized.

Go for horribly distracting Netflix binges! (5-7? Times/week, oops)

My top “horribly distracting Netflix binges” are in two categories: series documentaries that channel my concerns in a different direction (think: Netflix’s Great Hack on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal), or trash reality TV that lulls my brain into a peaceful retreat (LOVE. ISLAND.).

Re-read favorite books, or finally open the ones building dust up on your bookshelf (3-5 times/week, trying for more)

I just started reading Exhalation by Ted Chiang—with praise from Obama and a Science Fiction focus in existential, beautiful short stories, I knew this would be a book I couldn’t put down!

My stack of books I’m hoping to finish this semester: Exhalation, The Interface Effect, and Borne.

Channel your distress into losing board games (?? however much you can tolerate)

Recently, I’ve been getting into learning—and losing—chess. Learning a new game, or simply participating in the heated competition of any board game you know and love, is a form of singly-focused meditation.

Spend time with loved ones (virtually or ones you’re isolating with) (as often as possible!!!)

This one is most important. The extra time and distance we have is a reminder to really appreciate the people you have in your life, and to take advantage of technology to keep in touch!

Taking an evening beach walk with my second family 🙂

Last but not least, I always believe in the power of good eating (get those food groups, and don’t skip meals!) and a full 8 hours of sleep. I’m hoping we get through this soon and will be trying to make the most of my time at home until then!

For updates on the COVID-19 situation at USC, please refer to the university’s official website:

Madelyn Douglas

Madelyn Douglas

MAJOR: Electrical (Computer) Engineering YEAR: Class of 2020 HOMETOWN: Bethseda, Maryland PRONOUNS: she/her/hers