Monday, August 30, 2010

15 Ways to Manage Stress

15 Ways to Manage Stress

Do you feel like you never have enough time in your day? Are you always feeling stressed? Do you wish you could learn how to relax? According to the American Psychological Association, two thirds of Americans say they are likely to seek medical help for stress. Common signs and symptoms of stress include headaches, body pain, concentration problems, difficulty making decisions, feeling overwhelmed, overreaction, stomachache, anxiety, isolation, fatigue, and weight gain or loss.
Stress can also cause physical illnesses in addition to mental and emotional problems. Stress can contribute to hair loss, personality changes, ulcers, muscle spasms, nervous tics, high blood pressure, asthma, stomach problems and skin problems. If you suspect that any of your symptoms may be stress related, please visit your family physician.

We all lead very busy lives. Family responsibilities, work demands, time commuting or running errands. But we all have 24 hours in each day. How can we make the most of those 24 hours? What can we do to manage our stress in a healthy way?

1. Examine and evaluate your activities. Prioritize them by importance, and consider dropping any that are not bringing you joy or those that are contributing to your stress.

2. Take time to play. Unleash your inner child and have fun. Join a sports team, organize a game night, plan time with friends, blow bubbles, read the comics.

3. Laugh – watch a funny movie or television show. Laughter is good medicine.

4. Take time to rest. Take a 15 minute break during the day and rest. Meditate, pray, or nap. Make sure you get enough sleep each night.

5. Make lists. Plan ahead and prioritize your commitments. Cross them off the list when completed.

6. Take one step at a time. Make your tasks small and manageable.

7. Develop healthy eating habits.

8. Exercise daily.

9. Practice deep breathing techniques and muscle relaxation.

10. Daydream. Visualize yourself in your favorite place.

11. Relax. Set aside 15-30 minutes every day for relaxation. Take a bath, pray, take a nap, draw a picture, write in a journal, read a book, talk to a friend, pet your cat or dog.

12. Listen to music.

13. Draw, paint, or sculpt. Be creative.

14. Journal – write down your thoughts, feelings, dreams, hopes.

15. Talk to friends.

Learning how to properly manage your stress will help you be more relaxed, confident, stronger, and more content. You will have improved concentration, and a greater sense of peace and direction. You will have more energy, and will be able to accomplish more with less.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Preparing for College – 5 Tips for a Stress-Free Move in Day

Preparing for College – 5 Tips for a Stress-Free Move in Day

By: Crystal May, Lifechanging Counseling

Are you a parent or a new college freshman? You can make your move-in day successful and stress-free with a few simple steps. No one can warn an incoming freshman of the do’s and don’ts of campus life better than an upperclassman who was in his or her shoes not long ago. High school students dream about leaving home, gaining freedom, and having that unforgettable college experience balanced with the perfect combination of making memories with lifelong friends, a little partying and a few classes along the way. Everyone tells you what to expect, but no one tells you how to prepare yourself to be propelled into a totally foreign environment where every decision you make can change your life (for better or for worse).

It’s been my experience that move-in day is pivotal to how the rest of your semester will pan out. If you’re a wreck at move-in, your semester will be just as chaotic. Move-in day is also important because you get to meet the people you’ll be living with for the rest of the semester. This can go smoothly or become a complete disaster, depending on how you choose to handle things. When deciding what to bring to school, and on the actual move-in day, it’s important to remember 5 key points:

1. Contact the University’s Housing Office AND get in touch with your roommates before moving in so you don’t end up with 4 mini-fridges, 4 full-length mirrors, and no floor lamps or cleaning products. Also find out how much space will be available to you so you can decide before you leave home if the extra futon is really practical.

2. Be conscientious of your roommates. Your mom might insist on you bringing your full drum set and X-Box gaming system to keep you busy between classes, but take your roommates into account and ask yourself if you have enough space for all that in your room, and will that be a distraction to them and their studies. You don’t want to be the roommate who is a distraction to the rest of the suite.

3. To make the move-in process run more smoothly, take into consideration how far from home you’ll be living. If you live in state and your parents’ house is closer than your roommate’s hometown, don’t bring as much stuff on the first day. You’ll have the opportunity to go home in a few weeks and grab some more stuff if you need it, but your roommate won’t get a chance to go home until the holidays and might need to bring more supplies. If you’re going to school locally, all you really need to bring are your clothes, bedding, school supplies, and toiletries. Anything else can be brought in later. This will cut down on how much time Mom and Dad spend in your room helping you move. The swifter your move, the easier it is for the next person.

4. Prepare your parents prior to arrival. Nothing can slow the move-in process down more than Mom crying hysterically and Dad trying desperately to connect your Internet before they get back on the road. You should say your last goodbyes before getting to school, so when move-in day arrives, it won’t be this huge dramatic scene in the parking lot while another family is waiting to unload their kid. Also, Dad should be properly briefed on all electronics before attempting to hook everything up in your room so things don’t get broken or misplaced out of frustration. Lastly, don’t make move-in a family affair. Random relatives and little brothers and sisters only get in the way and slow things down. You should say your goodbyes to them the night before and only those who are pivotal to the move should be in the car heading to campus. They can all come back and see your room and meet your roommates on Family Weekend!

5. Finally, bring more necessities than fun ways to past the time. It’s ok to bring your movie collection or some video games to share with your roommates, but don’t bring things that can become a distraction to your roommates or yourself. There are student run organizations on campus for a reason. The more things you bring to play with in your room, the less of campus life you’ll get to experience.

College is supposed to be a fun new experience for the next four years of your life. You can’t enjoy anything new if you bring everything from home with you. This not only includes material items, but also old attitudes, close-minded ideals and overall baggage that will keep you from enjoying anything different that you come up against. You can be whomever you want when you get to school, and move-in day is the day to start fresh. Make it worthwhile…

Crystal worked as a summer intern for Lifechanging Counseling, a counseling agency providing counseling for teens and adults who are stressed, depressed, and anxious. She can be reached at For more information on Lifechanging Counseling, or to join our mailing list, please visit