January 2013
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Coping with Stress, week one

I’m halfway through my first full week of being back on the Hill for Jan Term, and tomorrow is my last day of class for this week! (Coping with Stress doesn’t meet on Fridays.)

Over the past few days, I’ve learned a variety of stress reduction and relaxation techniques in Coping with Stress, and hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate some of them into my life.

We spent a lot of time over the past couple of days talking about healthy sleeping habits and sleep deprivation. I never realized that having a consistent bedtime routine could be so important in getting a good night’s sleep, so it’s something I’ve started working on, especially since I need to do a stress reduction activity for two weeks for my culminating project for the class. I’ve decided to create a bedtime routine centered around yoga. I now end my night with cleaning my room to make space for yoga, preparing myself for bed, and then practicing yoga. I don’t think this has helped with my sleep deprivation yet, but my body definitely feels good and less tense after doing some of my favorite poses, like child’s pose, pigeon, cat, and cow.

We’ve also listened to a lot of relaxation tapes. We’re allowed to lie on the floor for these, so I’m glad I brought my yoga mat to campus this semester! We did some guided imagery tapes yesterday and today we had tapes guide us in meditation and progressive muscle relaxation. I had done some of these things in a class I took in high school called Dance and Lifetime Fitness, and I think I want to reincorporate meditation into my life. (It might by hard though. My suite is on the louder side.)

Similarly, we also learned a couple of breathing techniques. The one that I found to feel particularly relaxing was one in which you cover your left nostril, breathe out of your right, then cover the right and breath in and out of your left before doing the same with the right and continuing to repeat the process.

Lastly (and most unexpectedly to me), we learned about assertiveness. Sometimes, it’s easy for people to be passive when they interact with others, resulting in them not standing up for themselves and their rights to their feelings and saying no. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive, and it’s not the same thing as being aggressive.

Above all, we’ve learned that the two best stress management techniques are having social support, even if it’s just one person that you talk to support and guidance, and getting exercise. Tomorrow, we’ll be going to the fitness center as a class to learn more about the equipment and what services they offer. I went to the gym for the first time since my freshman year yesterday, and while I got some good exercise in, I know I definitely need a little guidance when it comes to using the fitness center effectively, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s class.

Though Coping with Stress isn’t intellectually challenging like most of the other classes I’ve taken at McDaniel, following through with the stress management techniques we’ve been learning presents its own challenge. Hopefully, I’ll continue to find more things that would benefit me and I’ll be able to make them a part of my lifestyle!


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