5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are inevitable, especially as the semester comes to a close. Every approaching deadline, lazy group member, borderline grade, and urge to pack up and move home ASAP can leave you in a fit of misery. One tweet floating around Twitter these days sums it up perfectly: "going to school between thanksgiving and christmas break feels like the last lap in mario kart when ur in first & get hit with the blue shell and ppl start passing u and the music is going really fast and everything gets stressful" (@peytnhaag). With the added stress during this time, anxiety and stress can become unbearable and you may feel as though there is nothing you can do to tackle it. Consider these tips the next time it all seems like too much. 

1. Breathe

This seems like a basic trick, but it truly does work! Most of the time anxiety and stress are induced by feeling a lack of control. Breathing is something you can control. By focusing on inhaling and exhaling, you can center your state of mind. There is no exact science as to how you should breathe and how many breaths you should take. Instead, use breathing as a way to refocus your thoughts, slow your heartbeat, and ground your sense of self.

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2. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

I know, this tip might be tough as a college student. However, caffeine and alcohol can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Sticking to water as your drink of choice at the library could limit those uncomfortable jitters and avoiding that glass of wine (or two) can limit that dreadful morning hangover. 

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3. Work Out

Your mind and body work hand-in-hand. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. These endorphins can improve the ability to sleep, stabilize your mood and improve self-esteem, which in turn, reduces stress and anxiety. Working out also gives you an escape from the mess of feelings in your head. 

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4. Ground Yourself

Grounding yourself includes stimulating the five senses, allowing you to remain present and aware of your surroundings. By doing so, you can escape from the swirl of your thoughts and distract yourself from the mental discomfort you may be feeling. Some techniques include reminding yourself where you are, listening to your surroundings, placing your feet on the floor, pressing pressure points on your own body such as your forehead, behind your ears and your wrists, or smelling a scented candle. 

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5. Talk

Talk to someone about how you're feeling! Saying what you are thinking out loud can make them seem more tangible, and your friend may have great advice for how to tackle your stress. Bonus tip: hugs are great for reducing anxiety and stress as well. 

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