Tips For Relieving Stress Throughout Your Day

Posted on December 5, 2012 by

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By Marissa Robertson

            We are constantly given advice on how to reduce stress throughout the school year, but as someone who is prone to everyday anxiety, I have often found myself wondering how to reduce stress during the day, while I’m actually at school.  Even though these tips may prove useful with upcoming due dates and exams, these are tips that can specifically be used anytime and anywhere. 

 

1)    Breathing – This is number one on the list because I believe it to be the most effective and important tip. Obviously we all breathe in order to survive, but surprisingly, according to an NPR article on breathing and stress relief,  most of us are not breathing correctly to reduce stress and to benefit our health as a whole. According to NPR, breathing in certain ways can either energize us or calm us down, as well as “…affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.” In order to reduce stress, breathing “can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.” I often find myself stuck inside for at least three hours every day, which is stifling, overstimulating, and exhausting.  My favorite time to implement deep breathing is outside; whether it’s between classes, walking to my car, or even driving to work with the windows down.  There is nothing more satisfying than a rush of cool, clean air to the lungs, heart, and mind.  For more information and deep breathing exercises, visit NPR’s site: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever

 

2)    Drink Water and Snack Throughout the Day – By mid-afternoon, I often find myself frazzled and agitated, with an excruciating headache.  On days when this becomes the case, it is almost surefire that I haven’t drank enough water during that day.  I’ve actually (generally) stopped taking pain-relief medication for headaches all together; I find that much of my stress is heightened, which results in headaches, from a lack of water, which proves to be an always successful cure.  According to an article on WebMD, being dehydrated can actually increase stress levels, which results in an endless cycle.  The same goes for food, as well. When I say snack, I don’t mean chips and cookies and “granola” bars full of corn syrup.  Eating healthy foods throughout the day can help to keep you energized and thus reduce stress levels.  I suggest nuts, peanut butter, fruit (especially blueberries – they’re a brain food!) and healthier alternatives to the sugary snacks we so often consume.  For more information visit:     http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/water-stress-reduction

 

3)    Take Small Breaks – As someone who gets overstimulated quite easily from things such as bright lights, too many people, and intense atmospheres in general, I find that taking small breaks throughout my day really helps me to calm down.  Try to plan a schedule that allows for some quality re-charge time throughout your day, even if it is just ten or twenty minutes sitting in the cafeteria or your car.  Constantly pushing yourself all day long will only result in physical and mental exhaustion in the long run.  If I have time, I will often try to fit in at least one cup of tea (or any warm beverage) sometime during the day. During this time, I will only allow myself to focus on mental clarity and what I am doing at the present moment – this is known as mindfulness – which brings me to my next tip.

 

4)    Practice Mindfulness –  Mindfulness is defined  as “a kind of non-elaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.”  Dwelling on past events or how much work you have in the near future can only lead to mental and physical stress  Attempt to appreciate and accept your current feelings, whether “positive” or “negative,” surroundings, thoughts, and self for what they truly are.  Part of my personal attempt at mindfulness is breaking away from technology – especially my cell-phone.  Having a cell-phone constantly on and buzzing is distracting and stressful for the mind.  Even though I bring my phone to school with me, I turn it off for at least 3 hours most days.  Attempt to give yourself a break from technology and pay attention to if and how your stress reduces.

 

5)    Outdoor Time – Finally, I suggest getting some outdoor time each day.  For many of us, this can be difficult, as we are on tight and demanding schedules.  To guarantee I get some outdoor time each day, I have started parking on May Street, allowing for at least a 5 minute walk to campus.  And even though the walk from May Street to campus may not be the most eye-pleasing, studies show that even glancing at photos of trees can help reduce stress.  From my perspective, I’ll take what I can, even if it is walking through a suburban neighborhood to campus.  There is still plenty of nature there to appreciate. 

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