Syracuse UniversityHealth Services

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How To Reduce Stress

Get a good night’s sleep

Ensure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours).  To relieve stress before bed, try some relaxation techniques and disconnect from technology at least an hour before bedtime. Getting less than 6-7 hours of sleep over a week can impair mental efficiency and cause depression, anxiety and irritability. As a result, people who get enough sleep are more energetic, positive and have better concentration skills.

Visit the stress reduction room on campus 

The stress reduction room located in the Office of Health Promotions in Health Services provides a safe place with tools to practice mindfulness. Whether you practice mindfulness, or are looking for a place to de stress and relax please stop by.

 Breathe

By slowing down your heart rate and lowering blood pressure you can relieve stress. Deep breathing can help you relax and stay calm during stressful situations.

Deep breathing involves using your diaphragm muscle, which is along the bottom of your rib cage. When you engage in deep breathing, your stomach appears to fill up with air because your diaphragm muscle drops to open up space for the air to come in.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is especially helpful for the muscle tension that you carry in your body. This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout your body. You can start at your feet and work your way up to your head.

How to tense different muscle groups:

Feet: curl your toes down

Calves: point your feet up towards your shins

Thighs: tense your upper leg muscles

Buttocks: squeeze your buttocks

Abdomen: tighten your abdominal muscles

Low back: lean your head and shoulders forward

Upper back: roll shoulders forward

Hands: clench your fists

Shoulders: flex your shoulders towards your ears

Arms: flex your biceps

Forehead: raise your eyebrows.

 

Exercise

Participating in a sport or completing physical activity at least once a week is a great way to reduce stress. After physical activity, your body produces endorphins triggering a positive feeling in your body. A quick 30-minute walk is a great alternative and can help reduce stress.

Meditation

Meditation is a simple activity that can be practiced as little as 10 minutes each day to control stress, decrease anxiety and improve your overall health. Good breathing techniques while meditating can help you reach a relaxed state, calm down and reduce stress.  Visit http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations for guided meditations.

Listen to music

Listening to certain genres of music can help reduce stress and calm you down. Try listening to calm music for a few minutes in between classes or perhaps while walking to or from school. Listening to music causes the brain to release dopamine a ( feel-good chemical) . Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Music is effective for relaxation and stress management.

Take a few minutes to experience a "sound bath," and let the music carry you away.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Your diet and nutrition choices can have a large impact on your stress levels. Certain foods can increase and decrease hormone levels in the body that naturally increase and decrease stress levels.  Specific foods including leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, fatty fish, dark chocolate, berries, and vegetables can help manage stress levels.

Try this relaxation exercise

  1. Sit up in a comfortable chair
  2. Place hands on stomach and close your eyes
  3. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose into your stomach. Feel your abdomen expand as you inhale
  4. Slowly exhale completely through your nose. Allow your shoulders and jaw to relax
  5. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply sensing the rise and fall of your stomach
  6. Let the in breath be connected to the outbreath in one smooth circular pattern
  7. Try a positive coping statement each time you inhale (I’ll be ok)
  8. Continue this for a few minutes