Stress Busting Strategies
Whether you’re cramming for an exam, starting a new job, racing to catch the bus in the morning, or planning a party, stress is a part of everyday life. However, keeping your stress level in check is an important part of staying healthy. When stress levels get too high, you may feel tense, have trouble concentrating, experience headaches or body aches, have trouble sleeping, feel powerless, and/or feel sad, angry, or worried. If you tune into these signs from your body, you can use them as a signal to start stress-busting!
Figuring out the cause(s) of your stress can be a good place to start. Sometimes there is an easy fix, like managing your time better or using effective communication skills with your roommates; but other times the cause of stress is outside of your control, like getting sick, finding out your dad lost his job, or grieving the death of someone close to you. It can be helpful to figure out whether or not the cause of stress is within your control.
There is a wide range of skills and strategies that you can try out when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Exercise can reduce stress levels and increase the flow of feel-good chemicals throughout your body. Whether you prefer a high intensity workout or a walk around the block, any type of exercise can lower your stress and improve your mood. If exercise isn’t your thing, try taking your mind off your problems by focusing on something else. You can do something creative, like writing or artwork, or distract yourself with jobs around the house. Talking things out can also be helpful. You might want to talk about your problems and vent to a friend or family member, or you might want to get together with the gang for some laughs. Some other stress reduction techniques include meditation and mindfulness training, progressive muscle relaxation and breathing exercises. If you’re interested in learning how to use these skills, there are some links listed below to get you started.
It’s important to remember that if your stress gets too intense or overwhelming, it’s okay to reach out for professional support to help you get through it – that’s what they’re there for! You can talk to a counsellor on campus or in the community, or you can call one of London’s support lines.
There are a lot of different ways to deal with stress -- figure out what works for you. Here is a list of stress-busting strategies and resources that you can try out:
- Walking -Integrate it into your daily life, for example walk to and from campus or get off the bus a few stops early
- Tai Chi
- Organized sports - Soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, whatever you like!
- Join a fitness class or work out on your own at the gym.
- Playing a musical instrument and/or singing
- Creating artwork - Painting, drawing, crafts
- Home projects - Paint your room or your bookshelf
- Writing journals, poetry, stories
- Knitting, sewing
- Cleaning the house
- Watching a movie
- Listening to music
- Playing a game
- Venting to a friend can be helpful, just recognize when to stop (i.e. before venting becomes stewing)
- Doing something nice for someone
- Going out for dinner/coffee
- Talking in person, on the phone, online, or through text messages
- Playing board games
- If the stress is overwhelming and the stress reduction techniques don’t seem to be helping you, it may be helpful to speak with a counsellor
- Free guided meditation downloads, ranging from 3-19 min: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22
- Information on mindfulness based stress reduction http://www.mindfullivingprograms.com/whatMBSR.php and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf
- Deep Breathing Exercises:http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthtopics/content.asp?hwid=uz2255
- Western Recreation Centre: http://www.westernmustangs.ca/index.aspx?path=wsrc&tab=westernstudentreccentre
- City of London Recreational Activities: https://www.london.ca/residents/Recreation/Pages/default.aspx
- Mindfulness Training: http://londonmindfulness.ca/
- Western Mental Health Services: http://www.health.uwo.ca/mental_health/
- London and District Distress Centre: 519-667-6711 http://www.londondistresscentre.com/
- Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Response: 519-433-2023 (London) 1-866-933-2023 (Middlesex County) http://cmhamiddlesex.ca/crisis-services/
- Popular authors on meditation and mindfulness include John Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, and Thich Naht Hanh
This page was created by Brianne Vescio as part of the 2014 Professional Development class.