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Wellness Center

Fitness & Nutrition

What is Stress?

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What does stress feel like in the moment?

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Physical and emotional symptoms of stress

Physical Symptoms

  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headache
  • Grinding teeth
  • Muscle tics
  • Stomach aches
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Back aches
  • Neck pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin problems such as hives
  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced sexual pleasure

Emotional & Behavioral Symptoms

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Over eating
  • Not eating
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired short-term memory
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Unproductive worry
  • Short temper or anger
  • Sadness, anxiety, or depression
  • Isolating yourself from positive relationships

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Your Body and Stress

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Possible long-term effects of stress

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What NOT to do to relieve stress

Drinking. It may make you forget about the stress at the moment but when you sober up it will still be there. Using drinking to deal with stress may lead to a dependency on or the abuse of alcohol.

Smoking. The stimulants in smoking can make you feel more jittery and anxious then you already feel. In addition to its causing cancer, smoking can also lead to a restless night’s sleep.

Binge eating. Excessive eating, like downing a whole carton of ice cream in one sitting, will only make you feel worse in the long run, in addition to setting you up for increased weight gain it can also cause you to have a negative self-image.

Picking a fight. It’s easy to blame someone else near you for your stress or problems, but if you pick a fight, it will only make matters worse. Fighting will create additional tensions and troubles (at school, home, or in the residence halls.)

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Protecting Your Physical Health From Stress

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Protecting your Emotional Health

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Managing day-to-day work-related stress

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Managing stress in the moment

Increase oxygen to the brain and calm breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 16, or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.

Relieve tension in neck and shoulders: do slow and gentle head and neck stretches

Relieve overall tension: slowly massage the palm of your hand and each finger

Relieve tension in neck and shoulders: soak in a tub or take a long shower, use a soap that has a fragrance known for being relaxing, such as lavender or eucalyptus

Prevent stress from building: take a break, play a computer game for 10 minutes, take a walk, watch a funny video clip, or call a friend.

Calm racing and fearful thoughts: send yourself positive messages - “I can do this,” ”I will survive this,” and “I will be okay.”

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Wellness Workshops – Stress: The Eye of the Storm

The train delay the morning of your exam, computer problems the night before a big paper is due, the roommates who expect you to clean up after them… we all deal with stress every day. Join us for this workshop and learn to identify stress and its effects, and discuss stress management tips and relaxation techniques which will help you throughout the school year.

This and other Wellness Workshops are available for residence halls, student groups, classes, and community organizations. These programs are facilitated by trained wellness peer educators from the student organization WAVES.

For more information on workshops and how to request one, go to Workshops

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Acupressure Sessions

“Acupressure is an ancient healing art using the fingers and other parts of the body to skillfully press key points, which stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. When these trigger points are pressed, they release muscular tension, and promote circulation of blood, and the body's life force energy to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same pressure points and meridians, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses gentle to firm pressure and integrates bodywork therapies, therapeutic touch, somatic work, healing imagery, energy psychology, and massage therapy techniques. Acupressure's healing touch reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply. By relieving stress, acupressure therapy strengthens resistance to disease and promotes wellness. Learn self-acupressure point formulas for various energy imbalances and healing applications.” (more at: http://www.acupressure.com/)

For more information on Acupressure sessions at the Wellness Center, go to Workshops

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Bio Feedback

“Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies.” (http://psychotherapy.com/bio.html)

The Wellness Center now provides the emWave PC Stress Relief System [http://www.emwave.com/]. This system uses a finger or ear sensor to measure heart rate data and graphically displays it on the computer screen in real time, showing you the effects of stress on your body. The Coherence Coach CD trains you on how to increase your coherence levels and reduces stress. “Coherence is a term used by scientists to describe a highly efficient physiological state in which the nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and harmoniously.”

For more information on how stress affects your heart rate and how coherence helps, go to http://www.emwave.com/how_emwave_coherence.html.

Students, staff and faculty can schedule appointments for biofeedback sessions at the Wellness Center by contacting us at 312-413-2120.

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Other Resources for Stress Relief

Stress Free Zone
Stress Kit
Stress and the College Student

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Links to Relief Techniques

Below is a selection of websites that offer a variety of stress reliever techniques that will help you to ease or manage some of your stress related tension. In addition to providing detailed written instructions, some of the links below provide guided audio or visual instruction. Different techniques work better for different people. Explore these and other techniques to find a source of stress relief that works best for you.

Check out the Wellness Center's Stress Free Zone. It's filled with games, information, and techniques to help relieve your stress.
Stress Free Zone

Article: Relaxation techniques learn ways to calm your stress.
Content: talks about the physical benefits of stress relief to your body.

Article: Stress relief: Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques.
Content: gives guided directions on how to do a variety of stress relief techniques such as breathing exercise and progressive muscle relaxation.

Article: 7 powerful relaxation techniques.
Content: focuses on how to live and think in ways that help to decrease and manage the build=up of stress.

Healthy Lifestyle Program University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Audio: Stress coping: Relaxation techniques
Content: offers guided audio exercises on deep breathing, mediation, imagery, and mindfulness.

UW University Health Services
Audio: Stress relaxation exercise
Content: offers guided audio exercise accompanied by music for six types of techniques. Music can also be uploaded onto an MP3 for free.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Audio: Relaxation techniques and tips
Content: offers two guided audio experiences, one is for progressive muscle relaxation and the other is a combination of relaxation exercise. Cam be uploaded onto a computer for free.

Health-Choices Massage School
Video clip: 3 minute demonstration on YouTube
Content: teaches viewer how to give a hand massage.

Article: Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More
Content: gives detailed instructions on how to use self massage techniques to ease tension in neck, shoulders, lower back, feet, tired eyes, and headaches.

Women’s Health West
Article and Pictures: Give Yourself a Massage
Content: offers pictures and instructions on how to self-massage hands, feet, neck, shoulders, and head.

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