A Student’s Guide to Stress Management

Us students are no strangers to the presence of stress; whether it comes from heaps of assignments, hectic commutes, or the looming shadow of a senior thesis *nervous laughter*. Whether we realize it or not, most of us get wound up pretty tightly as days and weeks of constant focus and occupation continue to pass. When do we stop? Is it even possible to stop and catch our breath without running the risk of disrupting our workflow? 

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

I think it is. 

I’m no expert in stress management, nor am I a certified therapist of any kind. I am, however, someone who tends to stress easily (over things both real and hypothetical). I think it’s safe to say that at any given moment, I am low-key stressed about something. That being said, my brain’s devotion to being stressed has only motivated me to find ways to keep the most toxic stresses in check. I’ve tried various methods throughout my life so far, and I am finally beginning to understand which practices are worth sticking to and which ones should be ditched.

If there is one thing that I learned early on, it’s that stress management/relief doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Not all of us have the time, patience, or means to take yoga classes, get weekly massages, or go for a swim. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of stress relief methods that usually help me unwind and chill out. Feel free to check them out and see if they work for you too!

Pamper your hands and feet

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

It’s easy to forget, but our poor hands and feet go through a lot! Thankfully, we can give them the love and care that they deserve with a simple massage. A handy (haha) trick I picked up in yoga class, quick massages can do a world of good for relieving stress. Certain pressure points in our hands and feet are said to be connected to other parts of our body and massaging them may help relieve other ailments like headaches, stomach pain, circulation, etc. 

Grab some essential oil or your favorite lotion and massage the areas of your hands and feet that are the most neglected (between the fingers and toes, knuckles, etc.). There are many approaches to these massages so experiment with different techniques and see which one works best for you.

Find or build a stress-relief playlist

Sometimes I think that music is the only thing in this world that makes sense. The best stress relief playlist is one that puts you at ease and makes the world’s problems seem a little smaller. While music streaming sites like Spotify have precisely curated playlists devoted to stress relief, I find that building an original playlist is part of the fun. Whether your playlist consists of heavy metal or classical music, hand-selecting each song can be oddly therapeutic. 

Stretch it out

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

This can be done in a number of ways and pretty much anywhere. I tend to stretch before bed while listening to my music. I like to think of stretching as a way to let go of any tension or negativity that I may have encountered throughout the day. I find that working out the knots in my body helps me relax and better understand how my body responds to stress. 

Put pen to paper

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Screen time can be a fun distraction from reality, but sometimes it’s better to confront your own feelings. If you run into times where you have a lot of inner dialogue running around in your head, writing down can be a good way to set those thoughts free. I find that physically writing down my thoughts, forces me to make sense of what I actually need/want. The plus side is, if you never want to see those thoughts again, you can enjoy the satisfactory feeling of ripping the paper to shreds, burning it or sealing it away forever.

Watch something that makes you laugh

Having a go-to source of comic relief can be super helpful. From viral videos to a comedy series, pinpointing what makes you genuinely laugh can be a major savior during stressful times. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions from yours truly: Brooklyn Nine-NineParks and RecreationThe Office, Vine compilations, Bad Lip Reading…I could go on for ages. 

Again, I’m no expert, so feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt. If these suggestions can help you at least begin to consider your own de-stressing methods, then I’ll be happy. 

Your mental health is important. If you need professional guidance (and are a student of Waseda University), consider seeking help from the university’s Health Support Center. If you are not a student but seek mental health services here in Japan, counseling services by non-profit organizations such as TELL may be able to help.

Thanks for reading! :)