Stress quick fixes: Our favorite apps and media to de-stress

By The Pitt News Staff

Finals are here. This means most of us college students will be sleeping less, writing an endless number of papers and fighting off stress-induced mental breakdowns. Though it is always good to seek professional help for stress-induced anxiety, sometimes you just need something to distract you from the reality of finals week for a few minutes. Here at The Pitt News, our staff has a few favorite apps, YouTube channels and artwork that help us relax when we need it.

ASMR YouTube channels // Elizabeth Donnelly, Senior Staff Writer

A few years ago I discovered the phenomenon that is ASMR — autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR is defined as a relaxing feeling often accompanied by tingles that run down one’s scalp and back in response to a stimulus — visual or auditory. While I don’t personally experience the natural bodily response associated with these videos, I do find them extremely relaxing and calming, especially during times of high stress like finals. There has been a huge boom in the number of ASMR YouTube channels recently, but a few really stand out.

Some of the best ASMRtists — the name given to ASMR YouTubers — have a plethora of different videos — from character role-plays to visual trigger videos, there is no lack of content online. Gibi ASMR is currently one of the most popular ASMRtists due to her creative role-plays and trigger videos. Her videos are extremely relaxing and are a great way to escape from reality. My favorite series on her channel are her “Daisy” videos. Daisy is a character she made up for her channel and she’s quite quirky and interesting. Just like a TV show or a movie, Gibi’s ASMR videos are entertaining, but the ASMR aspect — the whispering or soft speaking, visual stimuli, and calming hand movements — makes them extremely relaxing as well.

Other notable ASMRtists are Lily Whispers ASMR, Goodnight Moon, HaleyJean ASMR and The ASMR Ryan. Pittsburgh-based Lily Whispers ASMR is known for her makeup videos as well as her unsolved mystery videos, which combine tingles and relaxation with creepy cold cases. Goodnight Moon is an artsy ASMRtist who does intricate and impressive role-plays as well as art showcase videos. HaleyJean ASMR is less of a traditional ASMRtist — she is known for her try-on videos and game play videos. Finally, The ASMR Ryan is a horror buff who likes to combine his love of horror movies with ASMR content. ASMR is a great way to relax while being entertained, and it’s not just for those who experience the bodily response — anyone can enjoy these videos.

[Read: Q&A: Local ASMR-tist Lily Whispers talks tingles and YouTube stardom]

Nike Training app (but only for yoga) // Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

I come from a family of runners. My brother and sister always tell me to go for a run when I’m stressed. That would be great advice — if I didn’t hate running. I have tried the whole going-for-a-run thing, but I just end up getting bored, unbelievably sweaty, out of breath and sore. As an ex-figure skater and ex-dancer, my body takes a much stronger liking to an athletic activity that requires flexibility and concentration — and also doesn’t require me to be outdoors when it’s hot and humid. When I discovered yoga, it allowed me to de-stress through exercise without the nastiness that comes with running through the Pittsburgh heat and hills.

The Nike Training app is my favorite way to get a quick yoga session in at home. As much as I love going to a yoga class, I know I will be pressed for time all week during finals, so being able to spread my mat out on my bedroom floor and do a 35-minute guided yoga session from the Nike app is ideal. Yoga requires you to concentrate on your breathing and focus on getting in touch with your body, which are two great ways to overcome stress and anxiety. A quick midday yoga session is the perfect way to relax my mind while working my body.

The free app also features 15- to 20-minute beginner sessions, which is great for those who have never tried yoga or might not have the flexibility I developed through my nine years of figure skating. If you’re not a fan of yoga, Nike Training also offers guided training sessions for many different forms of exercise such as weight training, core workouts and ab workouts.

Adult coloring books // Delilah Bourque, Senior Staff Writer

I have about a million different coloring books stacked somewhere on my bookshelf. I always seem to luck out and find a few on clearance every time I go to Barnes & Noble, which I always feel compelled to buy. You can get all different kinds of adult coloring books. I have one on traditional style tattoos, one on yoga poses and even one that’s just nothing but Ryan Gosling.

Adult coloring books are nice for those who want to flex their creative side as a way to relax but aren’t super confident in their ability to draw or paint. I like to use colored pencils for mine, but you can definitely use markers or even watercolor paints. Most books have an abundance of pages for you to explore, and some even come with perforated edges so you can tear out your creation. Some books are more elaborate, while others are more simplistic. You can even get a whole coloring book of swear words for when your professors are really trying your patience with these finals.

If you don’t like the idea of a physical coloring book, there are even a handful of coloring book apps. Apps are great for trying to get a few minutes of zen in during finals week because they’re portable and no-mess. Colorfy allows you to tap sections of a picture with the color of your choosing. Pigment offers a more traditional coloring experience, where you use your finger to color inside the lines. Whichever way you like to color, digitally or pencil on paper, taking a few minutes to complete a grown-up coloring book is a good way to wind down.

Acoustic covers on YouTube // Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, Senior Staff Writer

When I get super stressed out, whether from anger, sadness, anxiety or something else the world decides to throw at me, music has always been a constant source of comfort. I’ve created several playlists over the years to indulge in when I want to vent or escape but when I want to relax and de-stress, nothing helps me better than sitting somewhere comfortable and listening to a long set of jazzy piano covers of my favorite soundtracks.

My go-to tracks tend to be covers from Studio Ghibli movies, like “Spirited Away” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” The soundtracks for those films are lovely and some of my absolute favorites, but there’s something about the free-flowing element to the covers that makes them so relaxing. Cafe Music BGM Channel, which features all manner of jazz music original and cover alike, has a wonderful three-hour-long video of just its cafe-style Ghibli covers. I’ve listened to it to help me de-stress, focus on a project or go to sleep when my mind feels too overcrowded with anxious thoughts.

There are jazz and piano covers of just about any soundtrack, including “Harry Potter,” Disney movies, even video game music. Carlos Eiene — insaneintherainmusic on YouTube — arranges and performs some incredible jazz and piano covers of video game songs from the Pokemon series, Mario Kart, Undertale and more. If you’re looking for content you can lose yourself in, these kinds of videos are super helpful because you can turn one on and let it play while you relax. Even if you want to get something done — like start packing things up to go back home (yikes) — the music can provide a calmer mood for the task and you don’t have to keep up with what’s playing to appreciate its help.