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Tips for College Students to Overcome Stress

Eugene Wood -- No matter what year you are, college can be stressful. Whether you're dealing with a new roommate, socializing issues, exams, or a job search, here's a simple tip to help you through the semester.

Which animal lives longer--an elephant or a dog?

This may seem like a silly question but scientists have been observing animals and their behavior in order to draw parallels to humans for hundreds of years.

"What does this have to do with me going back to college?" you might ask yourself. I want to talk to you about the types of stresses you may encounter as you enter college this year. Some of you are returning to college, some of you are coming in as freshman. Each year the stresses of college life are very different and I'd like to help you manage that stress.

Freshmen: If you're going away to college, you're leaving home, if not for the first time, it's certainly for the longest amount of time, unless you've been in the service, boarding school, or military academy. The stress you encounter is going to be centered on adjusting to new people and routines. Do you get along with your new roommate? Are you going to join a fraternity/sorority? Will you find a "crowd" to fit in with? Will you have to adjust your sleep patterns to get to class on time? Does your roommate keep you up at night or wake you in the morning as they get to class? Is the class load too tough? When will you study? (The rule of thumb is 2 hours study for every hour of class time). Also, dating and relationships are going to change

Sophmores: Well, you made it through your first year and are back with some wisdom and knowledge of how college works. Maybe you've picked out your roommate already this year, so that will be easier (or will it? Good friends don't always make good roommates). Maybe you're going to live off campus. Maybe you have a car. Be very careful with this new freedom. Drinking and driving during the sophomore year can lead to disaster (I lost a friend during this time). It's very tempting to let your study habits slip during this time and your GPA can take a dive. You may find that you have to adjust your course schedule and sign up for different classes than you predicted. As for the dating, you will now see that your choices have expanded.

Juniors: With two years under your belt, you're entering the home stretch. You've worked out the kinks of roommate, living on your own, and living environment issues. Now it's time to decide on a major, write term papers and learn how to do research. This stress can take its toll. You may begin to see what's on the other side of college. Big life questions now become the focus of your attention. You may be in a serious relationship with one of your classmates. If not, you've probably found a friend "with benefits." Juggling all of these components while trying to figure out who you are can be very stressful.

Seniors: This is it. The year you've been waiting for. Any regrets? Anything you wish you'd done differently? Do you like the way things are turning out? All of your friends and family are expecting great things of you. You've got studies to finish, interviews to line up. How is the job market? Will you be able to get a job you'll like? Where are you going to live? Are you happy with your relationships?

How to manage your stress?

Now we come back to our original question of which animal (dog or elephant) lives longer. An elephant can live as long as 70 years old. The average life span of a dog is 12.8 years. The answer is found in the way the animals breathe. An elephant breathes long and slow breaths while a dog is always panting and breathing very shallow. The average healthy, active, person breathes an average of 21,600 times a day. We can lower the number of breaths to 2,000 a day by learning some breath control techniques. By slowing down our breathing, we calm the nervous system and relax the mind. This will reduce our stress levels and give us longevity and health. It seems so easy and simple, yet few people learn it.

Breathing by any other name

Some call it pranayam, yogic breathing, counting to ten, no matter what you call it, slowing down the breath changes the physiology of the body. To begin, notice how you are breathing. Are you breathing from your chest or abdomen? Is it s quick, shallow breath or a deep long breath?

Place your hands on your tummy and forcefully push out all of the breath you possibly can. Hold this exhalation for 3 seconds. Now breathe into your tummy and feel your hands being pushed out, then pull the breath into your chest and upper lung area. Once you have fully inhaled, hold for 3 seconds. Now gently exhale from the bottom first (feeling your hands being drawn into the abdomen), then exhaling the upper portion of the lungs. Do this three times for right now and notice how you feel. The extra oxygen in the blood supply may make you a little dizzy at first, but as the body gets used to the oxygen, this feeling will disappear.

Eugene Wood is a NYC Licensed Massage Therapist, specializing in Therapeutic Massage and Ayurvedic Massage, which is especially effective in helping people overcome stress. Learn more by visiting his website at

© 2015 Eugene Wood

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