The Gustavian Weekly

Managing stress in a healthy way | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jessica Hastings-Ereth - Opinion Columnist | December 9, 2016 | Opinion

Hastings-Ereth argues that meditation is a beneficial way to decrease levels of anxiety and help lower stress levels.

Hastings-Ereth argues that meditation is a beneficial way to decrease levels of anxiety and help lower stress levels.

It is no surprise that finals stress us out.

However, there are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with the stress associated with finals and other exams or projects.

Over three million adults suffer from depression and/or anxiety.

A good chunk of this percentage affects students.

This is something that is unavoidable.

But if coped with properly, you can easily get through the stress of finals and focus on the fun of the holidays!

As college students, it is no mystery that alcohol is commonly used for stress relief.

Another common stress reliever is smoking, whether that is cigarettes, marijuana, or other drugs.

Having healthy stress relief habits will help you live longer and happier.

So during this stressful time, you should consider some of these other options that will help your mind and your body.

Exercise: Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, fast walking, cycling, and swimming, reduces symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

The list of health benefits from exercise goes on and on, but here are some key points to know: your sleep will improve, you’ll notice increased energy and stamina, and increased mental alertness.

When you are stressed, you may feel tension in your muscles, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or headaches.

You may also feel tightness in your chest, or muscle cramps.

The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating tension in your mind and body.

Exercise can help alleviate many of these problems and leave your body and mind refreshed.

Meditation: Meditation is often associated with religious practice, but don’t let that deter you from trying it.

Meditation has many different varieties, including zen, vipassana, mindfulness, mantra, yoga, and guided meditations.

These are just a few examples, but the possibilities and limits of meditation are endless.

It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to find a quiet place and sit in silence, focusing on nothing more than your breathing, or it can be as complex as taking hours out of your day.

The beauty of meditation is you decide what works best for you.

Dr. Britta Holzel said, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”

Meditation is becoming more common, and with that I encourage you to try and find one that will help you become more relaxed.

Therapy: Humans are social beings.

We’re not meant to be socially isolated, so going to therapy or confiding in someone you trust can be highly beneficial.

At Gustavus, you can get free counseling sessions.

When meeting with a counselor or therapist, you will receive individual help that is focused on one thing: you.

Meeting with someone who is professionally trained to help you in all kinds of situations, from stress to depression, is very beneficial.

Therapists are not there to judge you.

You are free to express your emotions at any time.

The person you see may give you different coping techniques, and even if they seem odd it doesn’t hurt to try them out.  Many times the best things tend to be the odd things.

Deep breathing: Sometimes we all just need to take a deep breath.

Doing this while you’re anxious or stressed is an excellent way to reduce those negative feelings and to help calm yourself down.

Deep breathing is a great way to reduce stress, and because it can be done in less than ten minutes, it is a great exercise to do while you find yourself in a stressful situation.

When meeting with a counselor or therapist, you will receive individual help that is focused on one thing: you.

Abdominal breathing is probably one of the most common deep breathing techniques.

This involves one hand on the chest and the other on the stomach, taking a deep breath in through the nose, making sure your diaphragm inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs.

This is what is considered a beginner form of deep breathing, there are also advanced, or complicated, deep breathing exercises you can complete.

One of the more advanced exercises is called kapalabhati.

This involves short, powerful exhales and passive inhales.

Further research will allow you to look deeper into some of these stress-relieving techniques.

It may take a few tries to find one that works best for you, but once you find one, you will feel much better!

During this busy time, take a few minutes and relax, take a deep breath, and know that everything will work out just fine!

Good luck on your finals, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

1 Comment

Comments are the sole opinion of the visitor who submitted the comment and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author of the article, its editors, or The Gustavian Weekly or Gustavus Adolphus College as a whole.

  1. Pain Sense says:

    Thank you for sharing your valuable ideas. It will definitely help all people who are in stress.