Be Your Own Therapist

By SARAH GALZERANO
Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered why some of your favorite activities bring you so much stress relief? Everyone has different ways of relaxation. After asking around campus, here are some that students had in common:

Exercise:
Just the word may freak you out, but that’s okay. Exercise can help release physical stress as well as relieve mental stress. In the beginning, exercise will seem to be more annoying than it is fun, but slowly and surely, you’ll begin to tolerate it, enjoy it, and finally depend on it for relaxation. Aerobic exercise is key for your mind and your body. According to Harvard Health Publications, “Regular aerobic exercise has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.” Exercise has even been used to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression.

Listening to music:
Music has a direct link to our emotions, so it can be extremely effective to any stress we may be experiencing. According to psychcentral.com, any type of music that we listen to, “can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.” But besides that, anyone who listens to music would agree that it serves as a great escape. Listening to our favorite songs acts as a distraction to stressing factors in our lives, and it may even motivate us. If you have trouble finding the time to listen to music, remember to put the radio on in the car, or instead of watching a TV show, turn on some tunes.

Reading:
Reading, as well as listening to music, serves as another escape from the world. According to research done by neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis, just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce human stress levels by more than two thirds. Psychologists believe this is because our minds have to concentrate and the distraction of being absorbed in another world eases the tension in our muscles and heart. Lewis states, “This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”

Cleaning:
This may seem surprising to some people, but cleaning has a great power to relax us. Face it: even though you might not have time to clean your living area, the clutter probably stresses you out. Elizabeth Scott, Stress Management Expert shares, “Because inner peace comes more from wanting what you have than from having what you want, unearthing the wonderful haven beneath the dirt and clutter can bring a new level of gratitude for all that you have.” As much as seeing a clean, beautiful home may relieve your stress, the act of cleaning does just as much good for our minds. If you incorporate mindfulness into your housework, it can act as a form of meditation and exercise. The end result will leave you relaxed and with a feeling of accomplishment.

Drinking Coffee:
I’ve heard a lot of people say that drinking coffee relaxes them, but how can something that is supposed to give you energy, relieve stress at the same time? Coffee not only wakes you up, but it enhances your mood, and gives you stamina. Other health and relaxation benefits from drinking coffee are that it boosts the immune system, gets rid of headache symptoms, and improves concentration. It seems that, when it comes to coffee, being energized can also be relaxing. Meghan Mendez, a Cumberland County College student, thinks, “coffee relaxes me because it’s warm and soothing to drink. It actually helps me while studying- keeps me calm from being overwhelmed.”
Is there anything strange that relaxes you? Remember, you’re probably not alone, and you can always find an explanation online!

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