Stress relief techniques


Social studies teacher Mrs. Abigail Youngerman leads her class in a short brain gym session before they continue work on a project. (Photo Credit: Shannon Seabolt)

As the semester draws to a close and finals approach quickly, stress levels are through the roof. Last minute tests and projects keep school constantly on students’ minds, increasing stress and anxiety. Luckily, there are several simple stress relief techniques that help with concentration and relaxation and are easy to add to a daily routine.

Mercy social studies teacher Ms. Abigail Youngerman, often leads her classes in a technique called “Brain Gym” before important tests. This technique involves simple stretches or movements that release tension in the body, helping with relaxation and reducing stress.

“[Brain Gym is] designed to help connect the hemispheres of your brain,” said Ms. Youngerman. “It’s about doing something other than total brain concentration all the time. Some of them are supposed to help with hearing, concentration skills, eye sight, and connecting across the quadrants of your brain.”

Exercises include gentle neck rolls, lightly applying pressure to the indents in the forehead above the eye brows, and deeply breathing in and fully exhaling with hands place on the stomach.

“I’ve shown it to all of my classes and I will occasionally do some of them,” said Ms. Youngerman. “Sometimes they’re simple things like what they call unrolling your ears (kind of pulling the little cartilage ridges in your ears out), stretching of your hands from all the writing, shaking out your hands, or gently messaging the back of your neck and releasing some of that shoulder tension.”

Other stress relief techniques include:

Meditation: This simple exercise involves sitting with closed eyes and repeating (silently or out loud) a positive phrase. Meditating for even a few minutes every day can relax the body and lower stress levels.

Power naps: Taking a 20-minute power nap in the early afternoon can improve efficiency and learning and reduce stress.

Music: Creating a stress relief playlist and listening to music can reduce stress and calm down the brain. It can also stimulate the brain, depending on the genre of music, to help with relaxing or waking up the brain.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): This technique involves tensing and releasing different muscles in the body until the whole body is completely relaxed. This removes unwanted tension and stress from the body.