STUDENT HEALTH CENTER
Stress Management Strategies
- Treat your body right. Eating right and exercising can increase your tolerance to stress.
- Set realistic goals. Do what is possible and carry on.
- Set and re-set your priorities. Take care of important and difficult tasks first, and eliminate unessential tasks.
- Take one task at a time. Divide large projects into smaller tasks, and make “to do” lists.
- Take five. Taking a short break can help slow down your mind long enough to improve your ability to deal with stress later.
- Learn to relax or meditate. Studies show that just 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection or meditation a day can bring relief from chronic stress and increase your tolerance to it.
- Give yourself a break. No one is perfect. Striving to be the best in everything will lead to worry, anxiety and failure.
- Learn to say “no.” Slow down and be honest about what you can comfortably do.
- Be flexible. Make allowances for other people’s opinions and be prepared to compromise.
- Avoid excessive competition. Excessive competition can be dangerous emotionally and physically—not to mention damaging to your job.
- Go easy on criticism. You may expect too much of yourself or others. Try not to feel let down or frustrated when your expectations are not met.
- Manage your anger. Retreat before you lose control. Allow time for you both to cool down. You will both be better equipped to handle the problem constructively later.
- Be honest with colleagues. Make it plain you feel you are in a bind. Chances are others feel the same. Do not just complain—make practical suggestions for improvement.
- Talk it out with a loved one. Talking it out can help you see things more clearly, release negative feelings, and get emotional support.
Mini Relaxation Techniques
Mini-relaxations can help allay fear and reduce pain while you sit in the dentist’s chair or lie on an examining table.
They are equally helpful in thwarting stress before an important meeting, while stuck in traffic, or when faced with people or situations that annoy you.
Here are a few quick relaxation techniques to try.
One Minute - When you have 1 minute:
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation. Alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you, breathe in and “at peace” as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.
Two Minutes - When you have 2 minutes:
Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
Three Minutes - When you have 3 minutes:
While sitting down, take a break from whatever you are doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, try to relax even more.
Sources for this article and links to read more:
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Jessica Heavin, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor