Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Stress Management

Learning to Relax

Dealing with Stress: 25 Tips


Learning to Relax
Once you can manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to cope with stress much  better.
But there will still be times when your anxiety level will rise; you might find it difficult
to concentrate, or suffer from stiff shoulder and neck muscles, or get tension headaches.

At these times it is useful to have an effective method of relaxation that best suits
your needs. Some relaxation programs such as yoga or Tai Chi manage to give you
exercise at the same time as helping to relax the mind and body. Other methods, such
as meditation, focus on mental relaxation. Choose a relaxation method that you feel
comfortable with, or construct your own method by combining elements of the following
suggestions on how to relax.  

Useful tips for learning to relax:  

  • Give yourself some ‘quality time’ to relax each day in a place where you are
    comfortable and undisturbed.
  • Get some regular exercise; do it on your own or join some organized program or
  • Get sufficient quality sleep. You will not be able to work effectively and your
    health will suffer if you don’t get enough good sleep.
  • Be nice to yourself. Think positively, and reward yourself when you are

Dealing with Stress: 25 Tips by Susan Fee at
College can be stressful because there’s so much to deal with: roommates, dating,
classes, finances, parents, job interviews, or just life in general. Healthy levels of
stress keep us functioning at peak levels, but stress overload makes us shut down.
Some signs of too much stress include headaches, stomach cramps, racing heart and/or
sweaty palms, irregular sleep patterns, and feeling angry, irritable, or tense.  


There are tons of ways people attempt to relax, but not all of them are healthy.
Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks, and eating junk food may make you
feel good for the moment, but actually cause the opposite effect. Caffeine, nicotine,
sugar, and alcohol spike your adrenaline level, but then leaves you feeling drained
when it drops. As alternatives, here are twenty-five healthy ways to de-stress and
re-energize. These ideas won’t change your situation, but they will give you a chance
to relax and regroup.  

  1. Exercise.
  2. Listen to your favorite music.
  3. Visit a pet store and play with a kitten or puppy.
  4. Read a book for pleasure.
  5. Take a shower.
  6. Rent or go to a movie.
  7. Call a friend.
  8. Go to a park.
  9. Visit a museum.
  10. Blow bubbles.
  11. Go to a ballgame and scream.
  12. Light some candles.
  13. Take a nap.
  14. Plan your spring break or summer vacation. Read the brochures often.
  15. Buy some playdough, balloons, or a Slinky.
  16. Take a yoga class.
  17. Go for a hike.
  18. Read the comics.
  19. Buy some packing bubble wrap and pop all the bubbles.
  20. Play your favorite video game.
  21. Buy a 64-count box of crayons and color.
  22. Get some old vacation posters. Put them up near your bed and daydream.
  23. Release upper body tension by rolling your shoulders forward, up, backward,
    and down. Repeat several times, and then reverse the roll.
  24. Go to a batting cage.
  25. Make chocolate chip cookies (or just eat the cookie dough).


The idea of meditation is to focus your thoughts on one relaxing thing for a sustained
period of time. This rests your mind by diverting it from thinking about the problems
that have caused stress. It gives your body time to relax and recuperate and clear away
toxins that may have built up through stress and mental or physical activity.  

Relaxing using meditation can have the following beneficial effects:  

  • slows breathing
  • reduces blood pressure
  • helps muscles relax
  • gives the body time to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products
  • reduces anxiety
  • eliminates stressful thoughts
  • helps with clear thinking
  • helps with focus and concentration
  • reduces irritability
  • reduces stress headaches

Meditation Techniques
The essence of meditation is to quieten your thoughts by focusing completely on just
one thing. Unlike hypnosis, which is more of a passive experience, meditation is an
active process, which seeks to exclude outside thoughts by concentrating all mental
faculties on the subject of meditation.  

In all cases it helps if your body is relaxed. It should be in a position that you can
comfortably sustain for a period of time (20 – 30 minutes is ideal). If you choose,
and you are sufficiently supple, then the lotus position may be appropriate.
Otherwise, sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on a bed may be equally effective.  

A number of different focuses of concentration may be used. Which one you choose is
a matter or personal taste. Some of these are detailed below:

  • Breathing — A useful method may be to focus your attention on your
    breathing. Concentrate on slow breaths in and out. You can accompany this by
    counting your breaths using the numbers 1 to 10. Breathing from the solar
    plexus (just below the sternum) take long, deep breaths, making sure that you
    expel all of your air from the lower section of your lungs and then fill your
    lungs to capacity. Try to visualize images of the numbers changing with each
    breath. Alternatively you could visualize energy and relaxation flowing into
    your body when you inhale, and stress or pain flowing out when you exhale.
  • Focus on an object — Here you completely focus attention on the
    examination of an object. Look at it in immense detail for the entire
    meditation. Examine the shape, color differences, texture, temperature and
    movement of the object. Objects often used are flowers, candle flames or
    flowing designs. However you can use other objects equally effectively (e.g.
    alarm clocks, desk lamps, or even coffee mugs!)
  • Focus on a sound — Some people like to focus on sounds. The classic
    example is the Sanskrit word ‘Om’, meaning ‘perfection’. Try repeating this
    word aloud about 10 times, then continue to repeat the word in your mind.
  • Imagery — This can be a very refreshing and pleasant way of meditating.
    Create a mental image of a pleasant and relaxing place in your mind, such as
    lying on a beach. Involve all your senses in the imagery: see the place, hear
    the sounds, smell the aromas, feel the temperature and the movement of the
    wind. Enjoy the location in your mind.

In all cases it is important to keep your attention focused. If external thoughts or
distractions wander in, let them drift out. If necessary, visualize attaching the
thoughts to objects and then move the objects out of your attention. You may find that
your attention keeps breaking as you worry about time running out. In this case it may
be easiest to set an alarm to go off when you should stop meditating. Your attention
will improve as you gain experience.