On Reducing Stress

By Olivia Canter

Do you ever have those nights when you are stress eating with your favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? There is a reason why stressed spelled backward is dessert! Well…stress eat no more with these helpful and easy ways to calm down. Taking breaks, doing yoga, exercising, listening to music, and doing mindless activities are fabulous techniques. Moreover, changing your lifestyle and managing your time will allow you to sleep more!

To overcome high levels of stress, it is healthy to take breaks.  If you have a lot of studying or homework to do, step away from it for a short period of time. Senior Chris Milano says, “I do interval studying and when I feel overwhelmed I take a break and watch tv or put music on.” When you are doing hours of homework all at once, it is very hard to concentrate, so follow Chris’s advice and listen to music! In fact, listening to music is extremely effective in lowering your anxiety. If you want to get rid of all your anger, jam out to rock music. Or, if you prefer something more mellow, listen to some soothing classical music. By the end of the year, Beethoven will be your best friend. Research finds that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves. This alpha brainwave is present when we are relaxed and conscious. Not only does listening to music help stress, but singing releases tension too. Another activity that release tension is yoga. Yoga is a mind-body activity that also takes your mind off of your worries. A huge part of this practice is controlled breathing. You will learn that focusing on your deep breaths will quiet your mind of its constant buzz of anxieties and stressors. Also, meditation will allow you to escape into a peaceful world where you can gather and organize your own thoughts. Not only this, but you will become much more flexible and strong!  If you don’t want to take up yoga, do another mindless activity. Get a coloring book and draw for ten minutes. There is also great value in just staring at the wall—this is not a joke (my mom does it a lot and she has four kids and works). You can also watch television, read a book, take a walk, or play a sport.  Freshman Emma Trembone exclaims, “I play soccer to relieve my stress!” Exercise produces endorphins that sparks a positive feeling in your brain and reduces your stress levels.

Reducing your anxiety can also be accomplished through changing your lifestyle. You will not get as stressed if you manage your time. Rather than leaving all of your work for last minute, start it in advance. Senior Gianna Prisco says, “I do my work in advance and I will study two nights before. I know it is really tempting to procrastinate, but if you study for a little bit each night it will make all the difference.” If you manage your time, there will be so many more benefits other than reducing stress. For example, your grades will probably improve because your work will be much better quality, since you aren’t rushing to finish it. Also, you will have much more free time, which is really big benefit in busy lives. Not only will you have more free time, but you can sleep more. Interestingly, sleep can reduce stress levels, so try to go to sleep at a reasonable time. When you are tired, you will be more impatient, which increases your anxiety. Also, better sleep will help you pay attention more. Sleep makes your brain work properly, and it puts you in a better mood. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

Most importantly, don’t worry about things you cannot change. “After I take a test and I feel like I didn’t perform my best, I try not to think about because the test is over and there is nothing I can do about it. Don’t dwell on the past!” states Lizzie Manowitz, a freshman at Byram Hills. If you have no control over something, stressing about it will do nothing, so move on. According to Psychology Today, thinking over your earlier life, you will often be revisited by feelings of anger, guilt, resentment, sorrow, or shame, which is unproductive and leads to negative feelings. They also state that dwelling on the past can also be a way of not coming to grips with present-day realities. When you are upset about something in the past, don’t look back, look ahead.

There are countless ways to ensure a peaceful life such as taking breaks, doing yoga, exercising, listening to music, and carrying out mindless activities. Also, changing your lifestyle, better sleep, and managing your time help you achieve equanimity. Don’t dwell on the past and move on when you can’t change something. You must remember that stressing won’t get you anywhere in life, and have the positive mindset that everything will be okay. Living a calm life is very important, but you must explore these methods and find which one works for you.