A new semester has begun, and with it comes a slew of academic and personal responsibilities that will do everything they can to break you. Perhaps you’re inundated with new assignments, reports and projects from merciless professors. Maybe you’re facing dwindling time as a civilian as mandatory military service looms closer. Or you may be scouring the planet for jobs and internships to adorn that resume. Sound stressful? Now add romances and breakups, money and family concerns that could be closing in around you. When this whirlpool of stress threatens to spin you out of control, you have to be prepared to fight back.
Two common ways university students deal with the megaton stress levels that they face is by chain smoking and binge-drinking until the contents of their stomachs are forcefully expelled upon the unsuspecting sidewalk. Nice pigeon food! Aside from these wonderful stress-relief tools, there are some less toxic ways to counter stress in your life. When the hangover finally wears off and you can see straight once again, take a look at these stress reduction techniques.
Candle Gaze Daze. Fight stress with the power of fire! This is a simple ritual that requires only yourself, a private room, and a small candle. Go to a room where you won’t be disturbed. (Turn of your cellular phone!) You may prepare the room by burning your favorite incense or aromatherapy oil, turning on some ambient music, and clearing a space to sit. Then light one or many candles, and set one at eye-level about 1 - 2 meters and stare at the center of the flame. Breathe slowly and deeply. Relax your shoulders, face, arms, legs, hands and feet. Tell your mind to shut up. Just focus on the breathing, long and deep. And watch that dancing flame sear away your stress.
Self-Massage Mania. As stress begins to surround you this semester, take a few moments each day to force it out of your body via self-massage. You need no special knowledge of anatomy to perform these simple steps. Start seated on the floor. Press your elbow into your upper thigh. Lean in with your body weight. Lean back and then forward again, pressing the elbow a few centimeters down the leg. Get into a slow rhythm. Exhale when you apply pressure, inhale when you release. When you finish the leg, use your fingers, thumbs, or a massage-stick to massage a few lines on each foot. For the back massage, you can use a tennis ball inside a sock or a specially made wooden massage tool. Lie flat on the floor, lift your back up, and put the ball under your back. Finally, for the head you can use your fingers or massage-sticks to press points in lines from your hairline all the way around your scalp. Keep breathing and the stress will flow out. You can also combine this with Candle Gaze Daze.
Rock Ritual. This is one of my favorite rituals to eject negative energy from your system. First, locate a small stone or pebble that can easily fit in your hand. You might find this while walking around your neighborhood or campus. Find a place outside where you won’t be disturbed. Hold your rock in your hand. Vividly visualize the cause of your stress: see the stressful thing; feel the stress in your body and mind. Next, as you experience this stressful feeling, in your mind’s eye give this stress a color. Visualize the stress as that color. Squeeze your hand tightly on the rock. As you squeeze your hand, visualize all of the stress-color moving into the rock. Repeat until all your stress is in the rock. Finally, bid farewell to your stress and throw this rock as far as you can (just not at any cars or houses!). If you aren’t too shy, let out a huge scream when you throw it. Bye, bye stress!
Color Coated Coolness. Getting unwanted stress attacks in places where you can’t throw rocks, light candles, or begin massaging your body? Fear not. Enter C-cubed. Choose a calming, relaxing color. Maybe it’s a pale sea green, a soothing deep blue, or a warm orange. Whatever your color is, make sure seeing this color makes you feel relaxed and at ease. Next time you feel bullied by stress, take a deep breath and visualize your color as powerfully and clearly as possible. Focus all of your attention on the color. You may close your eyes if it helps, but not while driving or in the classroom, ok! See this color melting down from above and wrapping your entire body in a safety-net of warmth and relaxation. Continue to breathe deeply as you swim in an ocean of your color and your stress dissolves.
Waterfall Mind. Stress and insomnia are buddies. Usually insomnia comes from an overactive mind that seems to be talking and talking and talking (and talking) and won’t shut up. Are these chattering jaws of stress ruining your night with their sleep-defeating dialogue? To prevail over this monster, let’s summon the awesome power of nature’s giant faucet: the waterfall. You can quell that insidious voice that’s keeping you awake by visualizing a powerful and unstoppable stream of water. While in bed, visualize this huge and powerful waterway flowing from your feet down to your head?you’re in the middle of the waterway, and the crown of your head is the crash point of the waterfall. Imagine the water flowing swiftly and powerfully. See it wash up your feet and legs and erodes your stress away. Also, you can add sound to your visualization. Hear the gushing force of the water, like a raging Niagra Falls, so loud that it overpowers the stressful voice within your skull. Smile and breathe as the water cascades over the edge of your head and falls into a dark abyss far below, taking the stress and drowning the annoying voice along with it.
Armed with these weapons of stress destruction, you can breathe a sign of relief and reclaim your peace of mind. Always remember that no matter how tough life gets these days, and no matter what breed of stress life hands you, the creative power of your mind is stronger.
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