STRESS REDUCING TIPS FOR MASSAGE STUDENTS
Being a student brings a certain amount of stress that cannot be avoided. School is a constant balancing act of a full life against academic responsibilities. Below are 60 suggestions to reduce stress and develop a habit of daily relaxation.
1) Breathe using deep abdominal breathing not shallow chest breathing. Expand your abdomen as you breathe in through your nose, hold a few seconds, and then release the breath out through your mouth. Pause a few seconds before the next inhalation.
2) Maintain a balanced nutritious diet. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. Choose lean meat and fish.
3) Limit the intake of salt, refined sugar, and alcohol.
4) Exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes. Be sure to include weight lifting as part of the regime. Exercise will help you forget about stressful events that occurred during the day.
5) Stretch often and regularly. Stretching reduces loosens stiff and tense muscles as well as increases blood flow. Stretching also decreases stress and anxiety.
6) Get sufficient rest. When you are well rested, you are better able to perform your best and deal with stressful situations. Be sure to get 7-8 hours of sound sleep each night.
7) Drink water daily, at least ½ ounce per 1 pound of body weight per day. If you become dehydrated, you may feel lethargic and low in energy, and hence more susceptible to stress.
8) Start the day with 10-15 minutes of morning meditation or just quiet time. Schedule stress breaks of at least 15 minutes to relax, especially on crowded days. Breathe slowly and deeply while allowing your body and mind to rest in a comfortable position.
9) Laugh often. Surround yourself with positive, happy people. Go to a comedy club. Tell stories with friends. Watch a Monty Python or Marx Brothers movie.
10) Know and be able to identify stress triggers. Once you know the source of stress, you can develop strategies, such as slow deep breathing, for stress management when confronted with these triggers.
11) Adopt Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer as one of your personal philosophies: “God (or your personal higher power), grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
12) Seek professional help when needed. If stress becomes too overwhelming, spend time with a mental health or pastoral counselor. Counselors can assist you with strategies for better coping with stress.
13) Try using positive visualization or guided imagery. Think about a time or place when you felt relaxed and contented. As you visualize the calm setting, recalling sights, sound, and even scents. These can help produce relaxation.
14) Combine deep breathing with positive visualization or guided imagery. Combining these two stress reduction techniques is very effective in enhancing relaxation.
15) Regard each day as a blessing. Also realize that life if a mixture of experiences some pleasant and some unpleasant. Learn and grow from the later.
16) Try progressive relaxation, which involves systematically tensing and releasing various muscle groups in an orderly sequence (from the face downward for from the feet upward). This will help induce relaxed and help you recognize the onset of muscle tension.
17) Monitor and control your spending. Financial difficulties increase stress. In essence, spend less than you bring in. If you need help seek expert commission-free financial advice.
18) Maintain a positive attitude. It is best to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Look at challenges as opportunity for grow.
19) Learn Tai Chi or Yoga. These activities are excellent for reducing stress by quieting the mind and promoting full deep breathing.
20) Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Minimize contact with those who are negative.
21) Talk to friends and family members. While they are not mental health counselors, talking to them gives you an opportunity to express feelings and share ideas.
22) Participate in community worship services. Regular visits to a place of worship are a great way to connect with others and enhance spiritual and emotional health while managing stress.
23) Help others less fortunate than yourself. Ironically, this not only benefits others, but also provides an opportunity to focus on concerns other than your own.
24) Take a course or workshop. It does not have to focus on stress or time management. Learn about something you are interested in such as history or photography.
25) Smile when you feel stressed. Research indicates that smiling rather than frowning can help you feel happier, lowers your heart rate, and decreases respiration rate.
26) Set achievable goals. A goal will help focus your thoughts and actions on areas you feel are important. When these goals are achieved, you feel a sense of accomplishment, which can reduce stress.
27) Avoid over-committing yourself and start saying No to things that do not support your goals or priorities.
28) Begin accepting responsibility for your decision, those that brought you to where you are in life. With this attitude, you are no longer a victim and rather become an empowered individual and problem solver.
29) Read self improvement books. These books, which are usually written by world-renown authors, contain insights into many facets of life related to stress management.
30) Visit self improvement websites. Like books, these websites contain a lot of useful material related to stress management. Unlike books, they also can contain telecommunications such as podcasts or blogs.
31) Keep a journal. Use it daily to explore your thoughts and feelings. Journaling reduces stress by taking internal process, committing them to paper, and then reflecting or clarifying them.
32) Take a hike (or just a leisurely stroll). This not only reduces stress but is a great form of exercise. In fact, make walking a daily activity.
33) Why worry when you can pray! If you believe in God, pray and pray often. Don’t just pray for help, but tell God (or your higher power) what about your day and how it made you feel. Talking to the all powerful and merciful is a great form of stress relief.
34) Listen to enjoyable music. Music has the ability to alter mood and relieve stress.
35) Drink herbal tea. Different herbs, such as chamomile, are known for their soothing effects.
36) Ask people you admire (such as your instructors) how they cope with stress. Look around and note people who remain composed under pressure. Adopt some of their stress reducing strategies.
37) Develop a relaxed attitude and sense of appreciation and gratitude towards work and relationships.
38) Practice reverie. At the end of each day, spend time in reflection. Review the interactions you had with people. If a situation generates stress, replay it over and over again until it becomes mundane. Then see the situation again with a new scenario, while vowing to behave more appropriately in the future.
39) Enjoy more leisure time. Write down 10 things you like to do, cut out these 10 items, and place them in a small bag or box. When you are feeling stressed, reach in and select one. Read the thing you enjoy and do it!
40) Develop a hobby. Becoming immersed in an enjoyable and interesting activity is a great form of stress relief.
41) Take up indoor or outdoor gardening. Gardening is a great form of physical activity and it teaches important lessons of cause and effect. Research indicates that being in a garden, even viewing a garden, relieves stress.
42) Sing. Yes, singing can be a fun and liberating form of stress relief. Sing loudly when possible. You don’t need to be on key, just enjoy yourself. PS – Students love when instructors begin lecturing in opera.
43) Look for opportunity while being an optimist. “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ L. P. Jacks
44) Develop negotiation skills, creating a win-win in every situation. This not only helps resolve stressful situations and conflicts, but also promotes confidence and assertiveness. Such skills will help create more satisfying relationships.
45) Laugh often. Laughter is a wonderful stress management tool. It promotes deep breathing, reduces muscular tension, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers.
46) Delegate tasks you do not like to do. This helps to manage your workload, increases your effectiveness, and enhances your own enjoyment.
47) Know and respect your limits. Don’t try to fit too much into a day and avoid over committing yourself to the point of break down.
48) Take frequent holidays or vacations. This gives you an opportunity to recharge your batteries, reconnect with yourself, have fun, and prevent burn out.
49) Squeeze a stress ball. By simply squeezing the ball over and over, you tense the muscles in your arms. After releasing, your muscles will become quite relaxed, and the stress will slowly go away. Because stress balls are small you can take one with you wherever you go. You can make one by filling a deflated balloon with 1/3 to ½ cup of cornstarch.
50) Honor your emotions by expressing them appropriately. Keep a journal, see a counselor, or join a peer support group.
51) Indulge yourself. “You know, sometimes you do something for no reason at all,” says Tom Hanks as Forest Gump. Self-Indulgence and pampering oneself are nurturing, frivolous, and direction-less activities we do for ourselves. Pampering just plain feels good and is more akin to play. Here are a few self-indulgent confessions, I mean suggestions: finger-painting, eating outdoors, comfortable lounge wear, and going to the movies and watch two or three feature films, back-to-back, while eating more than your share of Snowcaps.
52) Play games. Yes, playing card or board games can reduce stress. Games that involve more than several players such as Twister or Pictionary encourage playful interaction with others.
53) Stimulate yourself intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally on a regular basis. Go to art galleries, museums, worship services, and concerts. Read a novel, write poetry, or see a foreign film. Talk about religion and politics with someone who has differing philosophies.
54) Go to a stage production. This can a ballet, opera, or show from Broadway. If it is a musical, locate the soundtrack and learn a few songs. Sing them loudly when you are stressed out.
55) Avoid chemical aids. If you have a problem with recreational drugs or alcohol, see help from a substance abuse counselor. Oftentimes, substance abuse is linked to stress and learning stress reduction techniques is an important part of therapy.
56) Simplify meals.
57) Eat a meal by candlelight.
58) Avoid all forms of tobacco.
59) Write a faraway friend.
60) Get a massage.