Relaxation tips: Stress management techniques and ways to relieve stress for college students

Keep yourself from pulling out hair by following simple relaxation techniques. (Credit: stuartpilbrow)

Keep yourself from pulling out hair by following simple relaxation techniques. (Credit: stuartpilbrow)

Now that finals are over, you have a few weeks for relaxation so you can find your groove again. But once the new semester begins, will you just go back to your old stressful ways? Why not use this time to discover a few stress management techniques and ways to relieve stress so that you’ll have a better experience come the spring? What techniques work best for college students? Let’s take a look.

College life and stress

If you’re still new to the college experience you’ve noticed that school brings more stress than you’ve ever experienced before. What makes it more challenging is that you’re an adult now and you’re expected to figure out how to deal with it. But you don’t have to do it alone.

Help can be found at the George Washington University Counseling Center where you can access podcasts that will help you learn about stress management. The list of podcasts includes:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • anger management
  • how to help a friend with alcohol issues

Be sure to check with your campus counselor to see what resources your school provides for you.

Take care of your mental health

Think that mental health issues don’t affect you? Think again. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has an entire section of its site devoted to Depression and College Students. According to NIMH, “Many people experience the first symptoms of depression during their college years.” And why not? You’re living away from home, you have more responsibilities, and you have high expectations for academic achievement. That’s a lot to deal with. Add social relationships to the mix and the result is mental and emotional stress.

Okay, so what can you do to maintain your mental health?

  • First learn about depression and how to detect it.
  • Then see a doctor if you think that you need a diagnosis and treatment.
  • Check with your school to find out about resources available to you.

The folks at NIMH remind us that, “Depression is also a major risk factor for suicide. Better diagnosis and treatment of depression can help reduce suicide rates among college students.”

Self-help for college students

There’s a lot you can do to manage your stress with effective relaxation techniques. One psychologist has created a new style of yoga that has benefited combat veterans who have experienced extreme stress. Known as iRest® Yoga-Nidra, this technique shows promise in helping students relax and reduce stress while increasing their mental skills.

Created by psychologist Richard E. Miller, the integrative restoration (iRest) meditation protocol consists of a 10-step program that combines relaxation techniques with psychological principles and certain yoga positions.

You can learn about this yoga practice in an interview with Dr. Richard Miller in the video, “What is iRest® Yoga Nidra?” on YouTube.

Need a lifeline?

Another good resource for college students is the site created by the Jed Foundation. You’ll find articles, a self-assessment tool and a link to see if your school has programs on dealing with stress. But if you don’t find your school listed, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a program, so be sure to check with your campus contacts.

Topics covered at ULifeline include:

  • depression
  • stress
  • eating disorders
  • suicide

Be sure to check out the section on Emotional Health 101 where you can read stories submitted (sometimes, anonymously) by students just like you who are finding ways to deal with the stress in their lives. You’ll find encouragement, inspiration and hope in the stories that you read.

Take, for example, the story of one student who wrote, “I Told My Mom My Secret.” The secret was about the student’s struggle with borderline personality disorder and her habit of cutting herself when experiencing stress.

“My life changed from the time I told her. She now understands more about me. She did her own research, she came with me to see my psychiatrist, and together we started talking about my self-harm, my shifting moods, and my periods of intense anger,” the student said.

It helps to know that you’re not alone in dealing with stress and life’s challenges. In addition to the stories and articles at ULifeline, you can take advantage of their list of telephone hotlines under the Get Help Now tab.

What are your most effective techniques for dealing with stress? Tell us about them in the comments below.

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