How to Manage Stress When You Feel Like You’re Going to Snap
Wondering how to manage the stress of school, sports, clubs, AND college applications? These amazing relaxation techniques will help you take the pressure off fast.
“Diane, I want to talk to you,” my mother said with a very serious look of concern. She took a deep breath and asked, “Are you on drugs?” Oh. My. God. Was she serious with this?
Was I on drugs?! No, I was not on drugs. Being on drugs would necessitate a social life, for one. (Which I did not have.) A drug habit, from what I understood, would also require a significant investment of time. (Which I also did not possess.)
Was I on drugs? No, what I was on was the upcoming exams for AP Calc and AP Bio. What I was on was the 3 (yes, 3) application essays I had to write for Duke. What I was on was maybe 8 hours of sleep for the entire week.
Was I on drugs? I looked at my mother and saw that her concern had changed to a look of horror. It was only then that I realized that I had actually said all of that out loud. Maybe more like screamed all of that out loud. (Oh. crap.)
Many years later, I finally learned how to deal with stress without traumatizing friends and family. Because I heart you, I am going to save you 15 years (and save your poor mother a heart attack) and tell you how to manage stress with my 4 favorite relaxation techniques.
1. Abdominal Breathing
Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, making sure that your diaphragm (not your chest) inflates with enough air so you feel a stretch in your lungs. Shoot for 6-10 deep, slow breaths.
When to try it: Before an exam, presentation, or any other stressful event
2. How to Manage Stress with Guided Visualization
Choose any place that makes you feel happy and safe. Close your eyes and really picture the details. What do you “see” when you look around, up, and down? What do you hear, feel, and smell? Breathe deeply for a few minutes while focusing on these pleasant images.
When to try it: When you have a quiet place where you can safely close your eyes and let go
Want to try these exercises at home? Check it!
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body one at a time. Breathe in through your nose when you squeeze your muscles and then breathe out through your mouth when you release. Start with your feet and toes, then repeat the exercise with your calves, thighs, glutes, abs, chest, back, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, jaw, and eyes.
When to try it: At home or even at your desk
4. How to Manage Stress with Guided Meditation
Close your eyes and pay attention to the sounds you hear in the room. After a few breaths, change your focus to the physical sensations in your body, starting with your head and scanning to your toes. Next, shift your focus to your breaths. Count to 10 breaths and then just let your mind wander for a few minutes. When you’re ready, bring your focus back to the sounds in the room, wiggle your fingers and toes, and open your eyes.
When to try it: First thing in the morning or right before bed
And there you have it! How to manage stress with 4 fantastic relaxation techniques that only take a few minutes. Which one was your favorite? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!