Thrive on Campus//

Ways to Thrive While Experiencing Stress

My personal favorite stress busting methods, especially as a practicing psychologist.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Experiencing stress is an inevitable part of modern-day life. While the levels of stress that might lead us to burnout, fatigue, and different forms of psychological distress is unique to every individual, we can take time to try and test and curate our individual stress-busting mechanisms, thereby designing our personal favorite de-stressing routines.

Here are the seven of my personal favorites when it comes to de-stressing:

1. A power nap:

Whether I am at work, in between sessions, traveling or experiencing stress at home, curling up and taking a quick nap is my first and foremost emergency go-to techniques as and when I notice my levels of stress shooting up. Usually a quick five to 20 minutes of napping helps me recharge and replenish.

2. Feeling my feet on the ground as a way of anchoring myself to the present moment

This is one of my personal favorite techniques that I learnt during my training of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Visualizing myself as a tree rooted to this present moment, helps me unhook myself from my experience of stress and helps me bring myself back to this present moment. It is one of my all time favorite mindfulness techniques.

3. Checking in my internal dialogue and practicing self-compassion

Often we relate to ourselves, completely as our thoughts and feelings and are unable to recognize the ‘conscious awareness’ that we actually are. One of the best techniques that I have learnt as an ACT and CFT practitioner is the skill of taking the observer stand in my own mind, notice with curiosity what my mind is ranting and approach the dialogue with all my kindness.

4. Taking time to cry and vent out my emotions

I have never considered crying to be a sign of weakness. We carry our emotional selves wherever we are, irrespective of whether we are at home, outdoors or at work. Sometimes if I get an urge to cry and notice my mind giving me a hard time, I allow myself to be sad and there can nothing be more powerful than a good cry to process all the sadness that might show up during stress. Pathologizing your own anger or sadness is now considered a scientifically broken approach, whereas embracing all our unpleasant emotions and taking time to process them can turn out to be a life enhancing experience.

5. Reaching out to a loved one

A quick call, text message or any form of communication whereby I reach out to a loved one and share my vulnerability is one of my real favorites. Just like my all-time favorite author and speaker Brene Brown says, I have experienced that vulnerability is just not the only road to connection, love and creating feelings of belongingness, but also the road to psychological replenishment.

6. Savoring the flavors

Another one of my favorite mindfulness techniques is savoring the smell and the taste of a cup of my favorite tea, coffee or any food at the end of a stressful day. Bringing my senses back into the flavors and colors helps me gently bring myself back to the present moment.

7. Quickly checking the picture of a loved one or visualizing them

This is one of my newfound favorites and I have found it extremely beneficial. In a recent fit of stress and anger, it came to my mind like a stroke of lightning. I quickly visualized a picture of my mother and I found myself quickly navigating out of the pits of darkness that my mind had pulled me into. Henceforth, I have tried scrolling through a collection of my personal favorite pictures, mostly pictures of my loved ones as a powerful stress busting technique.

Other than the seven mentioned above, listening to my favorite songs, dancing to an all-time favorite song and yes, listening to my new favorite podcast “Meditative Story” by Thrive Global has turned out to be extremely beneficial.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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