Five Places to Unwind without Unwinding your Wallet

With academic pressures, part-time jobs, internships, school expenses, and maintaining a social life, it’s no wonder that students are searching for outlets to help remedy their stress.

Failing to set time aside to indulge in necessary leisure activities can lead to mental and physical limitations, and even burn-out. But, self-care methods can manifest in several ways.

While self-care can come in many different forms, it can also be quite pricey. Luckily, Ottawa is home to many initiatives that can build the bridge to a healthier and happier you–and a healthier, happier wallet too.

Here are five ways to take care of yourself during the school year without furthering your student debt.

Carleton’s Therapy Dog, Blue

Therapy dogs are trained to improve one’s emotional and communication abilities through comfort and affection.

Blue is a certified therapy dog who belongs to Shannon Noonan, Carleton’s residence manager, who offers one-hour sessions, twice a week, to Carleton students. Noonan said that often, seeing Blue gives students the opportunity to share problems they may face. She explained that building self-awareness, and practising self-care can help you become more resilient to stress.

“Seeking help in these ways helps to increase your self-awareness, if you’re exploring more of that about yourself, and if you have self-awareness, you can develop resilience,” Noonan said.

Yoga on Parliament Hill

Yoga is a well-known remedy for anxiety, depression, stress and of course, sore muscles. However, yoga also boosts memory and improves your concentration.

This summer, join hundreds of fellow yoga-lovers on Parliament Hill for a free relaxation session every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Hosted by Lululemon Athletica, the free program is open to yoga beginners and long-timers alike.

  Feline Café

Are you more of a cat person? There’s a time and a place for you too! Feline Café is a business that merges two needs into one initiative: remedying the overpopulation of cats in animal shelters, and helping people de-stress. Like dogs, contact with cats has proved to help anxiety and stress.

Josée Cyr, owner of the Feline Café, said, “They’re not specifically trained as therapy cats, but you can see the looks on [the guests’] faces – they just light up.”

For people who miss cats from home, or cannot own them due to allergies in their household, the Feline Café provides a space for quality time their guests crave. For a small donation, students can take advantage of this furry opportunity-just remember to bring a lint-roller!

  Yuk-Yuk’s

Need to sit back and laugh to forget about the pile of work taking over your desk? Yuk Yuk’s is just the place.

According to the The American Psychology Association, “Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. So laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.”

With this in mind, take a night out to venture into the world of stand-up comedy.

Tickets range from $12 to $25 with every Thursday being half-priced for students.

  Gotta Paint

Take a break from citations and equations to let your creative juices flow through painting. At Gotta Paint, you can choose from mugs, bowls, and figurines to show off your artistic ability – or lack thereof.

The items you may choose to paint start at $18.

The Gotta Paint experience includes the cost of using the studio, the paint itself, staff assistance, design tools, and the glazing and kiln firing.

Art puts your mind in a new environment, makes you pay attention to finer details, acts as a distraction, and leaves you with a product to commemorate the time you took to take care of yourself.

Trisha Santos, a first-year Interior Design student at Algonquin College, said she turns to photography when she needs a break from school.

“Have yourself focus on something else that’s not related to the work you’re doing. Make some time to detach yourself from schoolwork and focus your energy elsewhere,” Santos said.

Graphic by Manoj Thayalan