By: Dina Furumoto, Intern, Keiro
Throughout high-school, college, and even in my post-graduate life, I have felt some degree of stress. Academics always had me on my toes, anxious about not knowing the material for an exam, not being prepared enough for my presentations, or the constant doubting that I was going to pass a class. But even now as a college graduate, I am constantly stressed over the idea of where life is going to take me. I am always faced with this looming self-pressure and anxiety to decide what I am going to do with the rest of my life.
There are times when I can feel the physical and emotional effects that stress has on my body, like the tense muscles, uncontrollable bursts of anger, and feeling constantly tired. All of which I know are not good for my well-being. This realization has made me consciously try to develop some ways of coping and dealing with my stress. So here are some tips that have helped me and I hope help you when you feel overwhelmed.
- Do something that you have control over. I stress out about a lot of things that I feel I do not have control over, so it is comforting and therapeutic to do something that I know I can accomplish. I’ve pick up hobbies that have immediate progress that I can see. The stress-relieving hobbies that I like to do are things like embroidering, quilting, and baking. But I know a popular trend happening right now is coloring, so maybe pick up a coloring book and relive your childhood!1
- Deep breathing: When I’m conscious of my stress, a lot of times I realize I am holding my breath or not breathing properly. What has helped me clear my mind, collect myself, and relieve my body’s tension is inhaling deeply through my nose and slowly exhaling through my mouth. Other benefits of deep breathing include decreasing heart rate and blood pressure.2
- Listen to music. I have created various playlists on Youtube and my iPod that help me conquer what the world throws at me. Try different styles of music to find what relaxes you – quieter music is often more effective.3 However, I have multiple playlists to help with specific types of stress. For example, when it is work-related, I like to listen to a softer, jazzy, and soothing music playlist to help me focus. But when I have a personal life stressor that frustrates me, I like to listen to more upbeat rock, heavy bass music to quickly escape and recollect myself. I have to say, music can save the soul. I also try to find songs that I can sing to which boosts my mood and reduces my anxiety.
- Talk to friends, family, coworkers or anyone who will listen. Being able to talk about what is bothering you is a real stress reducer. I usually look to a friend or family member who understands what I am going through. Also talking to like-minded friends is comforting knowing you are not alone in these stressful times.
- Exercise. Being stressed usually results in being more tired, so it may be hard to find motivation to exercise, but I promise it works. Exercising releases endorphins which are seen as natural painkillers and can improve the way you feel. It also can decrease tension, improve sleep, and elevate mood.4 I see exercising as something that not only is good for my mental health, where I’m taking out all my frustrations on an activity but also my physical health. I use an app on my phone called “Johnson & Johnson’s 7-Minute Workout.” The app helps me find a variety of exercises to do and also how long it takes to do them, so I can find the right exercise routine to fit my busy schedule.
- Be thankful and grateful. Sometimes I catch myself being so immersed in what is going wrong, and I forget to think about all the blessings I have. So when I am stressed, I like to take a little time to see the positives happening in my life. Some recommend writing a gratitude journal, but I just do this whenever I have some downtime for myself (especially when I’m driving). Positive thinking diffuses anger and lightens the mood.3
There are times when I let stress get the best of me and I can feel the toll it has on my mental and physical health, but these tips have allowed me to deal with what life throws at me. Stress, whether it is from work or personal life, shouldn’t be something that prevents you from fully enjoying life. So while I try these different tips, I always like to remind myself that I can’t let this stressor get the best of me and prevent me from enjoying the other exciting things around me.
About the Author:
Dina Furumoto is a 2015 intern at Keiro. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (option in Criminology) and a minor in Political Science. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, embroidering, and staying involved in the Japanese American community.
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