Relaxation / Visualization Exercise

  • Sit quietly with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
  • Take three slow, deep breaths - in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Tense muscles in your feet and calves for three seconds ... release.
  • Tense muscles in your thighs and buttocks for three seconds ... release.
  • Take another slow, deep breath.
  • Tense muscles in your stomach and chest for three seconds ... release.
  • Make fists with both hands and tense muscles in your arms and shoulders three seconds ... release.
  • Take another slow, deep breath.
  • Bend your shoulder blades slightly backward and the tense muscles in your back three seconds ... release.
  • Clench your jaws and tense muscles in neck and face for three seconds ... release.
  • Take another slow deep breath

Now close your eyes and imagine a peaceful scene in nature - someplace you've been or would like to go. See yourself there feeling totally calm and relaxed - experiencing the sights, the smells, the sounds. Whenever you get distracted - by a sound in the room or a thought - simply repeat the word "peace" quietly to yourself and return to the scene. After five to twenty minutes, take another slow, deep breath and open your eyes.

Note: If you practice this exercise on a daily basis you may discover that, whenever you begin to feel stressed, you can say the word "peace" silently to yourself, take a deep breath and feel a measure of relief.

Stress Management

Emotional techniques
Laughing and humor therapy: Sharing jokes and learning to laugh at the little ironic nuances in life can help you to bear with these daily stresses. And if you can handle these with ease then you will be better equipped to cope with the really unpleasant and unexpected events.

Crying: It is ok to cry, and even beneficial. This is a natural way to relieve stress and tension and help your body heal.

Anger: Anger is sometimes the most appropriate response to a situation. You can tell someone about your anger, write about it (no expletives deleted!), hit something soft (like your mattress) or bite down on a bath towel and scream to let it out.

Mental techniques
Self-talk: What words do you use to describe yourself? Dealing with any negative thought processes can help reduce stress. Take a day and record your thoughts periodically. What do you say to yourself most often when you finish a test? What about when you meet someone for the first time? After you have recorded these thoughts, sit back and examine how often you put yourself down or pat yourself on the back. Becoming aware of this can help you next time to stop a negative thought before it starts. This can also help you to stop the negativity from becoming exaggerated and causing you to worry unnecessarily. The next step, turn the negative thought into a positive one: I'm not "stupid", I tried my best and I should be proud of that (or I know I can do better and I will next time).

Writing: Writing about events and circumstances that are stressful can help relieve the worry that you may feel. Using a journal may help you learn to express your feelings clearly. You don't have to write everyday to feel the benefits of journaling. Write as often as you feel the need.

Time management: This skill is one of the most important in de-stressing your life. Follow these steps to help you juggle the college schedule: 1. Keep a record for a few days (including a weekend) of how you spend most of your time. 2. Ask yourself if you are able to concentrate and complete each of the tasks at hand or are they taking longer than they should. Are you doing too many things at once? Are there distractions that keep interrupting you level of concentration? If so, plan for a quiet, non-interrupting environment where you can work on 1thing at a time. 3. Prioritize your time. Categorize the tasks by: need to work on now, need to work on later, want to work on when there is time. Schedule personal time daily into "need to work on..." category. And remember, just say no! If it is not important and meaningful to you, don't commit yourself to it. 4. Look at the larger picture. Use a day planner and set your own short-term deadlines for those huge research projects as well as the smaller reports. This will save you much heartache in the long run. But it doesn't work if you don't stick to it!

Physical techniques
Exercise: Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate, improves circulation and blood and oxygen supply to your body. This conditioning may help your body heal from the effects of stress. Exercise also releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Stretching is also a good way to relieve stress tension in the muscles.

Stress Management 2

Activities: Finding an activity that you enjoy whether it be: playing some soothing music, taking a hot shower or a long bath with candles and a cool cloth over your eyes, wearing your favorite comfy clothes or pajamas, enjoying a hobby such as gardening, crafts, painting, singing walking your pet, watching TV, talking on the phone, emailing friends, going to the gym, or just hanging out. Another stress-free idea, grab a group of friends and form a "Stress-Free Group". Set aside a half hour with this group to talk, go get a snack, go for a walk, or play a game. That way you'll have an outlet every evening and you'll schedule a break for yourself in the middle of a night of homework and studying. When you get stressed out, just think of your time with your group - it should keep you on task and also be a nice reward for working so hard! Allow yourself this time everyday to avoid burnout. It will refresh your spirit and recharge your body.

Nutritional foods: Eat a variety of colorful, whole foods as often as you can to help your body defend against stress. The vitamins, mineral and antioxidants in these foods such as fruits and vegetables help your body heal from oxidative damage that occurs from everyday living. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause increased tension and anxiety. Reduce caffeine intake or better yet, avoid it entirely and substitute with crisp, clean water!

Lifestyle: Limit your consumption of alcohol and don't smoke or use drugs- these coping mechanisms actually cause more stress to your body rather than helping you to relieve it. Instead, get enough sleep though the night since your body recovers from the stresses of the day while you sleep.

Body relaxation skills: These techniques help the body relax such as: deep breathing exercises (progressive muscle relaxation (relaxing individual muscle groups), massage (tense muscles in the shoulders and neck), and yoga and tai chi (combine exercise and meditation).

Relaxation / Visualization Exercise

  • Sit quietly with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
  • Take three slow, deep breaths - in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Tense muscles in your feet and calves for three seconds ... release.
  • Tense muscles in your thighs and buttocks for three seconds ... release.
  • Take another slow, deep breath.
  • Tense muscles in your stomach and chest for three seconds ... release.
  • Make fists with both hands and tense muscles in your arms and shoulders three seconds... release.
  • Take another slow, deep breath.
  • Bend your shoulder blades slightly backward and the tense muscles in your back three seconds... release.
  • Clench your jaws and tense muscles in neck and face for three seconds ... release.
  • Take another slow deep breath


Now close your eyes and imagine a peaceful scene in nature - someplace you've been or would like to go. See yourself there feeling totally calm and relaxed - experiencing the sights, the smells, the sounds. Whenever you get distracted - by a sound in the room or a thought - simply repeat the word "peace" quietly to yourself and return to the scene. After five to twenty minutes, take another slow, deep breath and open your eyes.

Note: If you practice this exercise on a daily basis you may discover that, whenever you begin to feel stressed, you can say the word "peace" silently to yourself, take a deep breath and feel a measure of relief.

Stress Management 3

Social techniques
Social support: Surround yourself with positive people. The support you receive from family, friends, and the community in which you live and the knowledge that you are cared for is very important in dealing with the stresses of life. Find someone that you trust, someone who knows and understands you and will listen to you. Talk with them about your problems. Don't be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings. By expressing your feelings to others (in a positive, respectful way), you will be able to understand and cope with them better. Share with them your down times but also the joys in your life.

Assertive communication: Being assertive in the way you interact with others can help reduce the stress in your life. Being passive doesn't allow you to stand up for your rights, but being aggressive may end up hurting others. Changing your style to assertive communicate allows you to make your views known without making others feel put down or intimidated. This reduces the stress that comes from poor communication.

Volunteer: Do something to help someone else. This will focus your attention away from your self.

Professional advice: If you find yourself looking toward over-the-counter herbs or other natural or elicit drugs for depression, consult a health care provider. Go to Student Health Services on Joplin street next to the football stadium or phone them at 235-4452. Check out the University Counseling Center in Whitesitt Hall. You can schedule an appointment with a Counselor there. They'll help you recognize your stress and work with you to get control of it. Call 235-4044 for more information.

Spiritual techniques
Prayer: Many people are able to derive a great deal of solace and stress reduction from prayer - whether it be praying the Lord's Prayer, the Serenity Prayer, talking directly to the God of their understanding or attending a religious prayer service.

Reflection: Know what is important: Take time out to decide what's important and what's not in your life. Have a sense of purpose in life and get in touch with your core values. Ask yourself what are the beliefs that guide you and give your life meaning?

Mindfulness: Self-awareness that comes from meditation and awareness exercises helps us tap into our own strength and effectively deal with stress and difficulty. One way to build mindfulness is to daily ask yourself how you are feeling emotionally, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Physical exercises are often combined with these activities: meditation (focuses your attention and calms the mind), guided imagery (visualization) and music therapy (help you to relax, improve your mood, or stimulate the mind).

15 Strategies for Stress Management

Effective time management is just one of many ways to keep from succumbing to stress overload. Here is a list of some other methods of stress management that you might want to experiment with to see what works best for your particular situation.

1. Associate with people whom you enjoy and who support you.
2. Learn and practice relaxation or meditation skills.
3. Engage in a vigorous physical exercise that is convenient and pleasurable. Sometimes it helps to get a friend to exercise with you.
4. Don't let one thing dominate you, such as school work, relationships, jobs, sports, etc.
5. View life as challenges to seek, not obstacles to avoid.
6. Take responsibility for your life and your feelings, but never blame yourself.
7. Maintain a reasonable diet and sane sleep habits.
8. Avoid the use of sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and other drugs to control stress.
9. Protect your personal freedoms and space. Do what you want and feel, but respect the rights of others. Don't tell   others what to do, but if they intrude, let them know.
10. Find a time and place each day where you can have complete privacy. Take time off from others and pressures. Short time-outs during the day can help improve efficient functioning the rest of the day.
11. Don't drift along in troublesome and stressful situations or relationships. Take action to change rather than trying to avoid the problem. Taking chances is the key to emotional well-being.
12. Surround yourself with cues from positive thoughts and relaxation.
13. Review your obligations from time to time and make sure they are still good for you. If they're not, let them go.
14. Open yourself to new experiences. Try new things, new foods, new places.
15. When worries start to build up, talk to someone.


Please contact Taylor Zingg- Student Coordinator gorillasinyourmidst1@yahoo.com or J.T. Knoll at 620-235-4062 or by email at jknoll@pittstate.edu for more information. Or stop by our temporary office - 209 2nd floor Hartman.