Thursday, October 2, 2008

Move Your Stress

Quick Tip

When you feel stressed, a flood of hormones races throughout your system. One very simple and rapid way to change this situation is taking 3-5 slow, deep breaths. This will rapidly reduce the levels in your bloodstream which are causing you to be unable to think clearly.

Physical fitness is the cornerstone of all wellness. Developing and maintaining an active lifestyle is critical to your greatest chance of success in all endeavours. No matter what your physical abilities; whether you have chronic pain or are in a wheelchair or hate the idea of going to a gym, finding your own personal path to being physically fit will affect all of the other realms of your life.

Exercise can actually increase your stress threshold. This means you can handle more stress when you maintain an active lifestyle.

Physical exercise is one of the most powerful “drugs” you can give yourself to keep your mind and body going strong.

Go for a walk, join a kick boxing class, dance at home. If you have specific barriers which make it difficult for you to walk or dance or do yoga, find ways to move whatever parts of your body you can move.

It is important to exercise for good health and well being, not just to lose weight.

You might want to try working out in the morning at the fitness centre before classes so you can feel energized for the day.

When you understand how important physical activity is to a strong, healthy mind, you will never again decide you don’t have time for exercise because you have too much studying to do!

One of Natalie’s four part series

Test Anxiety

Nov. National Addiction Awareness

Celebrate the joy of an addictions-free life and increase your awareness of the struggles of others who have an addiction.

Relaxation Tip

Place one hand on your belly. Breathe slowly and deeply. Feel your hand rise and fall. Let your shoulders drop and feel your body relax and renew. Relaxation has a cumulative effect. If you include a brief period of relaxation into your daily schedule, your body’s ability to relax will increase.

Test and assignment anxiety?

You are not alone. Most students feel some level of anxiety before presentations, tests and exams. It is only when the level of anxiety you experience actually affects your marks that it becomes a problem. Reach out for support early.


1.Your Student Success Mentors can help you with study skills and time management.

2.Peer tutoring is available for students.

3.Our Mind and Wellness Nurse teaches relaxation techniques every Tues and Thurs from 1-1:30 in the Student Success Hub

4.We have counselors you can talk with if your anxiety is overwhelming you.

You can book an appointment for any of these services through Jodie at the Student Success Hub.

If you are aware that you have a problem with test anxiety, let your teacher know in plenty of time (days) before any testing begins. There may be other options to evaluate your knowledge or performance within the subject matter. If you have a specific disability (learning disability, mental illness, etc) you can use a quiet test area if you arrange this with your instructors beforehand.

Test preparation to reduce anxiety:

•Approach the exam with confident attitude.
•Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to yourself, practice, team work, journaling, etc.
•Be prepared! Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test. Use a checklist if you need to.
•Choose a comfortable location for taking the test with good lighting and minimal distractions
•Allow yourself plenty of time, especially to do things you need to do before the test and still get there a little early
•Do not cram. The time before a test is better spent doing a relaxation exercise which will increase oxygen flow to your brain so it will function at its best
•Strive for a relaxed state of concentration
•Avoid speaking with any students who have not prepared and express anxiety – it really is contagious so surround yourself with the more confident, relaxed students
•A program of exercise will keep your mind sharp
•Get a good night's sleep the night before the exam
•Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach. Fresh fruits and vegetables reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices
•Take a small snack, or some other nourishment to help take your mind off of your anxiety. Avoid high sugar content (candy) which may aggravate your condition

During the test:
•Read the directions carefully
•Change positions to help you relax
•If you go blank, take a relaxing breath, skip the question and go on
•If you're taking an essay test and you go blank on the whole test, take a slow, deep breath, pick a question and start writing anything. You have just given your brain some fresh oxygen and just the act of starting to write may trigger your newly energized brain to feed you the information you need
•Don't panic when students start handing in their papers. There's no reward for being the first done.
•Take slow, deep breaths throughout the test
•Don't think about the fear
•Pause: think about the next step and keep on task, step by step
•Use positive reinforcement for yourself: Acknowledge that you have done, and are doing, your best
•Expect some anxiety. The adrenaline can actually provide energy. Just keep it manageable

About test anxiety from a counselor at an American university –

Social Scene Stresses

Keep a tennis ball or stress ball handy in your back pack or at your study desk. Take off your shoes and rub your feet over the ball for a relaxing foot massage.

Making Friends

The “Social Scene” can be one of life’s great delights AND one of its biggest stressors.
College is a place where you can make life-long friends or where you can simply enjoy some light social contact with fellow students before you head back to family and well known friends.

Whichever is the case for you; friends are one of the great joys in life. One very important factor that determines how healthy a person is happens to be friendships. Studies show that people who have good supportive friends are ill less often and have greater longevity!

Try one or two of these tips:

1. Commit to speaking to one new person every day this week. Or, at least commit to smiling at one person every day and see what happens. Studies show that behaving in a happy way (eg. smiling) can actually promote the feeling of happiness.

2. Be comfortable and be yourself. Other students are just as nervous as you are. Trying to appear something you are not sets you up for discomfort.

3. If you want to make friends – be a friend – offer your help – lend a pen – participate in school sponsored events, set up study groups or meet for coffee.

4. If you are living in res – leave your door open – invite people in for a snack. Don’t use up all your time communicating by email with old friends from home – take some time to get out and meet some new people.

5. Good friends push us to develop the best in ourselves. Encourage others.

6. Like yourself – if you don’t, it is hard for others to spend time with you.

7. Call someone on the phone to share something you think they may find interesting.

8. Develop a variety of interests. This makes you an interesting person to be with.

9. Find activities that enrich your life that you enjoy doing alone. People who can enjoy their own company are not desperate to have people around all the time and tend to make better friends

You can check out this site for ideas on how to develop some friendships, resolve conflicts and improve your communication skills.

Young man gives good info on stress and shows his dragon breathing stress reliever

Like Your Attitude?

Never underestimate the simple power of the deep breath. Start with a couple of times each day to begin to program your mind. Pick the same time each day and attach it to something you already do regularly - like when you turn on a light or get into your car or eat lunch or stop at a red light. Take that moment you have decided on and just take a deep, intentful breath.


“As the famed stress researcher Dr. Bruce McEwen has pointed out, a key determining factor triggering the stress response is the way a person perceives a situation. We ourselves give events their meaning, depending on our personal histories, temperament, physical condition and state of mind at the moment we experience them. Thus the degree to which we’re stressed may depend less on external circumstances than on how well we are able to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally.
For human beings most stressors are emotional ones.” (In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate)

The goal is not eliminating all of your stresses. It is much more relaxing to think about getting control of them, one at a time. Think about making small changes. If you can change your routine so there is just a slight difference between what you used to do and what change you expect, you have a much better chance at long term success. If you want to try to get to bed earlier, start with a five minute change. Successful change is permanent, not dramatic.
Life is 10 % what happens to you and 90% how you react to what happens.

Beware the language of stress. “This job stresses me out so much.” “She/he stresses me out.” These statements infer that we are powerless – it is the situation or the job or a person rather than how we are reacting to those things. Try making slight language changes that reflect the reality. “I feel stressed by my job or that driver.” This is not an opportunity to blame ourselves, but rather to acknowledge the reality – stress IS mostly about how we are reacting.

Don't let the stress of the day build up and carry to the next. A fresh start is so necessary for a good day. Stress can be so insidious – it can just creep up on you. It’s like the frog story. It is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

Two part series talks about how perception is a major part of causing stress