The beginning of the school year is always stressful, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
Stress management is essential for any student to live successfully, clearing and calming both bodies and minds. Anxiety may make one feel out of control, but that is not the case- there are techniques and tips you can learn to regain command and decrease stress. Coach Zorn, the Ursuline teacher of Mindfulness and Stress Management, gave expertise on this subject.
Zorn teaches that mindfulness is the ability to find tranquility by focusing on the present, which acts as a stress reliever. Meditation is a form of mindfulness that helps soothes the brain and allows one to take a breather. “[Mindfulness] is a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens,” said Zorn.
People may find meditation difficult because of their lack of motivation and they get distracted easily. “The mind does wander during meditation, and that’s completely normal. The best thing to do is to not get frustrated with yourself when this happens, and to just say to yourself, ‘Ok, my mind is wandering, I need to re-focus,’” said Zorn.
By noticing stress triggers and identifying what makes a person tick, anyone can form a plan of action with how to manage one’s stress level. When one’s body starts to give off signs of stress, there are activities to complete to help lower one’s stress level. “This will be different for everyone, but for me it’s taking time to exercise every day, since that’s my number one stress reliever and it makes me feel good. For someone else, it may be reading, listening to a podcast, or playing with a pet. Whatever it is, do something that brings you joy every day!” said Zorn.
Practicing stress management techniques might seem difficult but prioritizing a segment of one’s day to activities to help manage your stress will make an impact in the long run. The effects of dedicating a time for mindfulness every day will begin to show. “I would start small with a 3-5 minute activity, such as a breathing exercise, or I really like the app Headspace that has a variety of activities from 1 minute up to over 15-20 min long. As you begin to find these activities helpful, and you are able to add it to your daily routine, you can increase the time you spend,” said Zorn.
Another example is journaling, which is a relaxing, stress relieving technique. By starting a journal and documenting stress, the source of stress can be discovered and the best, most effective way of dealing with it can be enacted.
“As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down: what caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure), how you felt, both physically and emotionally, how you acted in response, and what you did to make yourself feel better,” said Help Guide.
Furthermore, aromatherapy, which is the process of using essential oils, like lavender or chamomile, is beneficial to stress management. “When we inhale oils into the lungs, we see both a psychological and physical benefit. Not only does the aroma of the essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but when inhaled into the lungs, the natural occurring chemicals can supply therapeutic benefits,” said Kristin Parks CMT, BCTMB. Simply by applying essential oils to your skin or using an oil diffuser, you may reap the benefits.
Reach out to a family member, friend, or trusted individual to talk to about feelings can also be helpful. Make sure to consider one’s feelings before and after the discussion. It may reduce anxiety by knowing there is always someone there for support. Start to take action to soothe stress and anxiety- do not let it interfere with how life is lived.