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7 ways to ease-down as the semester ends

It’s the end of the semester, and you know what that means. Projects are due, finals are incoming and your heart is likely palpitating. Now, more than ever, is the time of year to take some time for yourself.

You’ve heard all the methods: go to bed early, get some exercise in and avoid caffeine. While these are all great things to do, making some lifestyle changes for only a matter of weeks won’t do you much good. These are long-term methods, not short-term solutions.

So, what should you do? Simple: explore. Athens is a great town, and it’s got a lot of things to do. Staying at home and ruminating gets you stuck in a self-depreciating loop. So take some time to enjoy a few novel experiences and open your head up.

Here are 7 ways to unwind this semester:

1. Go hiking

Athens and Southeast Ohio have an amazing selection of parks and natural forests to explore. You would be surprised how many students have never actually set foot in any of the local spots, which is quite a shame.

Sells Park off State Street is probably the most accessible place for students. It’s a small hike out, probably 30 minutes or so, but you can get there by foot. If you’re one for heavily forested walks, Sells Park offers just that, in addition to some great mountain biking. If you take a left upon entering, you’ll be taken up a unique rock face overlooking the entire city of Athens.

Strouds Run is the place most known to OU students and for good reason. It’s a beautiful lake with great locations for picnicking. If you're in for an easy hike, pick one of the trails near the parking lots by the boat landing. If you’re feeling adventurous, park at the side near the dam. The trails on this side are longer but less clearly marked, overgrown and easy to get lost in.

If you‘re looking for a drive, head out to Lake Hope in McArthur, Ohio. More touristy than the rest, it offers boat rentals and operates a restaurant famous for its smoked BBQ (a meal will cost you $15 to $20). It’s also great for swimming during the summer and spring months.

2. Embrace art

Ever visited an art exhibition? Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, you might find yourself reacting to some of the work on display. 

Athens has multiple locations that host exhibitions. The Dairy Barns Arts Center is the best known, and you seriously consider checking it out, if you haven’t been there yet. They also host art classes and workshops if you’re interested in producing art, including some options for online classes.

The Ohio University School of Art + Design hosts galleries throughout campus on a revolving basis. Check online to see where the galleries are located. If you do, you'll be supporting other students.  Also, make sure to check out the Kennedy Museum of Art at the Ridges.

3. Go on a train ride

If you have a car, consider going for a train ride at the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad in Nelsonville, Ohio. They offer different types of rides depending on the price point. A simple scenic ride will cost you between $15 to $20. Some special rides creep into the $20 to $25 price range.

The special rides are unique trips that depend on the season and are normally holiday themed. On rare occasions, they’ll offer extremely unique rides like a staged train robbery. 

If you have bills to burn (and as a college student you probably don’t), you can spend between $50 and $75 on a train ride that includes dinner. There are fine dining, BBQ and craft brew options.

4. Go for a swim

What’s more refreshing than a good swim? Diving into some water brings a change in perspective to help take your mind off things. What’s a better distraction than worrying about not drowning? Nothing.

The Aquatic Center at Ohio University is underused by the student populace, despite being open almost everyday. If you have a couple hours of free time, go swim some laps. It’s much easier on the body than cardio and weightlifting. 

5. Go on a craft beer tour

If you’re sick of drinking chemical-tasting domestic beer, consider upping the ante and seeing what some local craft beers taste like. You would be surprised how many different flavors of beer exist out there. If you don’t like the bitter stuff, there are sweeter flavors to choose from.

Athens is home to many craft breweries. First, there's the ever-present Jackie-O’s which has staked its claim over the area. Try their Razz-Wheat beer, probably their most popular option. If you want to explore some of the smaller breweries, check out DogFish Brewery or Devil’s Kettle Brewery

If you’re not a big fan of beer, consider visiting West End Ciderworks and Distillery. Their bar, Ciderhouse, offers a wide variety of craft hard apple ciders.

6. Stretch out with some yoga

Many take to yoga as a way of handling stress; people have probably already recommended that you try it every time you're stressed. Consider watching some online videos to give it a try.

If you’re serious about it though, it’s best to take classes as the instructors can correct your form if necessary. The Ping Center offers lessons for free as long as you're a member. You can register for them online.

There is also a plethora of independent yoga studios in Athens. Athens Yoga, Inhale Yoga Studio and Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio all offer yoga classes. Every yoga studio is different; some focus more on exercise, others on spirituality. Try them out and choose one that’s best for you

7. Explore Southeast Ohio history

Visiting a museum helps connect you to the area even if you grew up elsewhere. Museum trips were some of the best explorations in elementary school, so consider bringing some of that joy back into the present day.

Alden Library regularly hosts guests and exhibitions of items from their archives. The lithography in their books can be jaw-dropping, and it really shows how much care used to go into making books.

Southeast Ohio History Center regularly hosts exhibitions of local history and other events. Athens has a rich and fascinating industrial history on top of its identity as a college town. 


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