As we near the end of the semester assignments and tests are going to start piling up, increasing our stress levels. Stress can leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, and even have a negative impact on your relationships. It’s important to make extra time in the day to relax to combat the added stress. Here are some simple relaxation methods I use that can help keep your stress levels down:

Deep Breathing: If you pay attention to your heart rate and breathing during stressful times you may notice that your heart rate is rapid and your breaths are short and shallow. Deep breathing is a simple technique to bring your body back to balance allowing you to maintain a relaxed state during stressful times.

  • Inhale through the nose slowly and deeply to the count of 10
  • Exhale through the nose slowly and completely also to the count of 10.
  • Repeat this 5-10 times until you feel at lease. Doing this several times a day will help keep yourself calm and relaxed.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Most of us will feel a lot of tension in our neck, shoulders, and back and what we don’t realize is this could be due to our high stress levels. But the good news is you don’t need to pay for a professional massage. You have all of the essentials to help yourself! Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on alternatively tensing and relaxing each muscle of the body to relieve pain.
Always start from the top. Begin with your face muscles and work your way down all the way to your toes. I like to do this lying down so it’s more comfortable and it doesn’t even take long to do!

  • Start with your forehead, tense for 10 seconds.
  • Release completely for 10-15 seconds.
  • Following top to bottom, move to your eyes, cheeks, neck, shoulders, arms and so on until you reach your toes.
  • Repeat this process until you have worked with every muscle.

Remember to maintain slow deep breaths to help keep you focused, centered, and relaxed throughout the process. Try to do this at least once a day so you are giving your muscles time to relax. They need a break too!

There are many other forms of relaxation techniques to try as well, like yoga and meditation. It’s important to find what methods work best for you and fit into your schedule. As you learn and practice relaxation techniques, you will become more familiar with recognizing the signs of stress, especially your body’s physical response. When you’re in tune with your body, you will know when stress is starting, and you can quickly react by using your favorite relaxation method, which will help keep your stress from getting out of control.

Written by Ashley Stewart, Peer Educator