Holidays are an extremely important time of the school year. While many students squander their break with copious amounts of Netflix, very few manage to find a way to release stress in a meaningful and productive way. So how exactly can you do that?

Here are some suggestions for Productive Stress Relief during STUVAC!


Reading is undeniably useful for any student. Now I’m definitely not saying you should be spending your free time gorging on Shakespeare, but even engaging with popular texts like Hunger Games and Harry Potter is a great way to sharpen your vocabulary and broaden your mind.

Also, did I mention that reading is a great way to relieve stress?

A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%

That’s right, 68%! Seriously, I know many students find the mere thought of ‘reading for leisure’ repulsive, especially coming off a term focused on digesting and analysing endless amounts of material, but the benefits of reading are second to none! Find a genre you like and try something new!



If you’re lazy like me, this suggestion will immediately throw you off, but trust me when I say that exercise is a great way to release stress in a productive manner. Not only do you keep your health in check, but by exercising, you’re also blowing off steam in a very harmless way.

If you’re afraid of starting a whole exercise regime, fear not! Even something as simple as walking is greatly beneficial to your body and your mind.

A study at the University of Michigan found that walks, specifically in areas full of nature, increases short-term memory by 20%.

So get outside and experience some nature!

Work with a Charity

Charity work is extremely beneficial. Not only you’re giving back to your community, but it can also keep you grounded and realistic. There is a world out there beyond merely studying, as much as it doesn’t seem like it.

Helping others can really help you. Listening to people’s stories and sharing life experiences can open your mind and provide you with a fresh point of view – something which might have gone stale with constant studying.

Find a cause that you care about and find out how you can help out. Elizabeth does a tonne of work with the KYDS Youth Development Service and headspace Chatswood. St Vincent de Paul and the Salvos have lots of opportunities too. Love animals? Then why not contact a local animal shelter and volunteer there!

Adopt a Creative Hobby

If you study Art, Music, Drama, or any other subject that prizes creativity, adopting a creative hobby can be extremely beneficial for your studies in addition to releasing stress. What are some creative hobbies, you may ask?

  • Writing
  • Painting or drawing
  • Woodworking
  • Dancing

Those are just a few suggestions. If there’s anything that you’re interested in that can be applied to your studies, seriously consider adopting it as a hobby. The best part about this is that, because you’re interested in the hobby, you’re much more likely to participate it in, increasing the likelihood of relieving stress.

Plan Ahead

And finally, another fantastic way of blowing off steam is actually by making plans and organising your life. While it certainly might not sound very relaxing and entertaining, planning ahead actually relieves stress by removing uncertainty from your future. A few ways of doing this includes:

Timetable your study

Creating a timetable for your study is a great way of planning ahead. Here’s a 10 step plan you can use to create an epic HSC study plan.

Many successful students use timetables:

“Basing my study around a clear timetable was key to actually forcing myself to work and get the marks I aimed for at the start of the year.”

Jane98.40 ATAR

Research future careers

 If thinking about schoolwork will only increase stress, then researching various career options is a great way to productively plan your life. Find out what interests you and have a look online for any information about potential career options for those interests. Find interviews or videos on YouTube, or read about them in articles and blogs. There’s plenty of material out there to fuel your exploration.

Organise events

If all of the above seem too real to handle, then simply organising upcoming events like concerts, parties, sleepovers etc. can be a great way to reduce future anxiety. Call up your friends, discuss times and arrangements, and just try to have a good time.

The best thing you can do throughout the holidays is stay calm and stay positive, so try and fuel that through any of the aforementioned methods of productively reducing stress.

When he’s not devouring every book, film and television show he can get his hands on, Jack Theodoulou studies a double degree of Education/Arts majoring in English at the University of Sydney. Previously an instructor of classical guitar, Jack began coaching at Art of Smart in 2015. In his spare time, Jack often finds himself entangled in a love-hate relationship with fiction-writing and a (possibly) unhealthy obsession with video games.