Stress Happens


Part VII: Stress Happens

by N. Menendez, Meaghan Lally, Sonia Montenegro, and Melissa Rebullosa

“Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” – Carin Hartness

Let’s face it, not matter how hard your try there are days when no matter how many deep breaths you take, you can’t seem to calm yourself down. In order to manage the stress in your life, it helps to be aware of how it manifests itself and then how to prevent it and manage it.

Tips for the adult student who is about to throw their books out the window:

What’s Causing Your Troubles

Although stress may be obvious to some, others are so used to having a certain amount of stress in their lives that any addition isn’t readily noticed. Moodiness tends to be a tell-tale sign to everyone but you. But if you walk away from someone or a situation and reflectively ask yourself why you reacted the way you did, this can be a stress indicator. Getting sick frequently is a common indicator of being overwhelmed;  your immune system is down when you are stressed. Signs of aggression are a big red flag. For example, you experience a bit more rage on the road, or a level of impatience that isn’t normal for you. If you have an emotional shut-down or flood–an extreme lack or overflow of feeling–you’re probably stressed.

Take Advantage of Friends and Family

Having a strong support group consisting of friends and/or family may help you identify any of these symptoms in order to work on managing it and then setting up a plan in order to prevent it.  Talk to them and ask them to help you see and understand when you might be stressed. Keep an understanding honesty policy, so if they tell you to chill out you can’t freak out!

Catch Your ZZZ’s

Sleep is often the first thing to get cut when it is the most important. Are you sleeping enough?  Hardly anyone gets the recommended eight hours these days, but it definitely makes a difference if you get at least six to seven good, quality hours of sleep. Set an alarm for 30-60 minutes prior to the desired bedtime.  Start wrapping up what you’re doing, turn off televisions, radios, dim lights, take a hot shower (this lowers your body temp, which is necessary for falling asleep), turn off all lights and go to bed. Your bedroom should only be used for sleeping. That way your body understands that being in bed means relaxing and sleeping. Incorporate a no work zone for your bed. If you can’t fall asleep within 30-40 minutes of lying down you should get up, do something relaxing, and try returning to bed again in 15 minutes. The more restless you are in bed, the less likely you will be able to fall into a sound relaxing sleep.

Give Your Starbucks Card a Break

Caffeine can really be a problem for those who have trouble sleeping.  Especially if you drink it well after noon.  Try to have your last caffeinated beverage no later than 1pm.  This should allow for your system to rid itself of caffeine before bedtime. Drink flavored water or low-sugar juice with dinner and have herbal and decaffeinated teas before bed.


Rough day? Take fifteen minutes to just relax. Take time to breathe, literally!  Take a page out of ancient Buddhist ‘sitting’ practices (a type of meditation). Set a timer for 10 or more minutes and pick a quiet spot in your house where you can just sit.  This works best sitting with your legs crossed on the floor facing a wall (so you won’t get distracted).  Concentrate on your breathing and try to clear your mind.   You’ll be surprised how relaxed you’ll feel after just a few minutes.  This exercise is an effective way to bring down your stress level and rejuvenate you for the rest of the day. Try lighting candles and practicing calming breathing. Scents like lavender, chamomile and mint are all natural soothers. Also try visualizing yourself in a calming setting, whether on a beach in the Bahamas or fly-fishing in the Rockies. Mentally placing yourself in a setting that provides positive and relaxing images helps lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Take Time for YOU

Remember how we covered making time for you in our healthy mind and body section above… WE MEANT IT!! If you have at least five minutes, try one of these methods of relaxation from Sarah McColl, editor of

  1. Just Breathe. No matter where you are, you can do this one without a yoga mat or in line at the grocery store.  Just focus on taking a slow deep breath in, relaxing your belly and filling up your lungs. Then, slowly exhale. If you want to add to this, see the tip above and carry some lavender oil in your purse and apply lightly to your temples and earlobes beforehand.
  2. Stretch it out. Of course, yoga does wonders, but you have five minutes and it is much easier to go back to grade school stretches if you don’t know of any yoga postures. Stand up, and keeping your knees soft, fold at the waist and hang your head and arms loose towards the floor. Let gravity do the work of pulling you down. Then, stand up straight, clasp your hands behind your back and stretch your shoulders and upper back. Gently stretch your neck with slow, easy neck circles or by hanging your right ear towards your right shoulder, then left ear to left shoulder. If you’re feeling especially tense, take a few moments to knead the muscles along the top of your shoulders.
  3. Tea time. Boiling water and a bag of your favorite tea can be a relaxing ritual you can do every day.  Breathe in the steam, drink in the anti-oxidants and enjoy.
  4. Jot it down. “Sometimes the best thing you can do to quiet your mind is to directly confront it. Are you worried about a sick relative or how you’re going to pay the heating bill? Take a few minutes and just write it down. List everything that’s stressing you out and causing you concern. Just emptying the clutter in your brain will make you feel lighter, whether or not you have the time or energy to focus on solutions right now. You’ll get to that soon enough — but you can’t address what’s troubling you until you know exactly where that anxiety is coming from.”
  5. Sing out loud. You remember, like in the shower?  Or the car? An upbeat song may be just the thing for redirecting any anxiety you may have. Let your inner Sarah McLachlan or Mick Jagger come free!

Previously: It’s All About Me

Up next: That’s a Wrap!


One Response to “Stress Happens”

  1. That’s a Wrap! « Connections Says:

    […] Connections DePaul University SNL Online « Stress Happens […]

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