Life can be full of uncertainty and pressure. You might face it when you’re in college and are uncertain about such things as who you are, how you fit in, what your future is and how to best prepare yourself for it. Or you might suddenly find yourself uncertain and feeling vulnerable and as though you have no purpose while awaiting difficult news about your health or experiencing changes at work.
Stress, anxiety and depression are often consequences of the combination of uncertainty and pressure.
Whether we are encountering health problems, are a college student, or are experiencing some other unexpected uncertainty and stress in our lives, we all need strategies to calm our bodies and take us out of our worries, so we can work, carry out normal day-to-day functions, and concentrate. Without these strategies your life can feel like it’s spiraling out of control.
It’s important to have a number of approaches to get through difficult times. This post focuses on two simple options for reducing built up tension in the body. These strategies won’t solve your problems, but they will improve how your body is responding to the stressors in your life. In one study focused on reducing anxiety and depression in college students, physical exercise and relaxation techniques were found to be valuable remedies for depression and anxiety (Cai, 2000).
Below are strategies for increasing relaxation and incorporating exercise into your life.
Progressive relaxation involves tensing and then releasing the muscle groups of the body.
Every day routines that include exercise can decrease the amount and intensity of stress that you experience.
Your thoughts and your physical response to stress improve with exercise. Exercise is like preventative medicine for stress. It improves your ability to cope with stress and makes you more resilient to stressors (Salmon, 2001). Exercise can be a distraction from problems, can make you feel competent and can reduce muscle tension.
These strategies are meant to be used in the midst of difficult times. They won’t change your circumstances, but they can improve how your body is responding to stress and can have a positive impact on your mood and your ability to cope.
Woman walking photo available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 10 Apr 2012