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Natural Balance


Back to school… or back to stress?


Well, we made it through the first week of school starting. The last couple of weeks of August and the first week of September can be a stressful time for all. Whether you have kids returning to school, older children moving into college, or experiencing the increase in traffic because of school can make it tough.


We compiled a list of the top ways to manage stress during the school year. These 5 tips are beneficial for all ages so as a parent or teacher you can encourage younger people to notice their stress levels and most importantly pass on the skills to managing their stress.


Practice deep breathing

Deep belly breathing is a standard yoga practice. It requires inhaling until your breath fills your abdomen like a balloon.

To start: sit comfortably either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with both feet touching the ground. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your stomach. Gently inhale until you feel your belly expand, hold for 5 seconds, and slowly exhale until all of your breath is expelled. Repeat for one to five minutes.


Slow down

Meditation is proven to help reduce stress if practiced regularly. Set aside 5 - 20 minutes a day to sit in silence.

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Focus your attention on your breath, some people like to count as they breathe. Try the 3-4-5 breathing technique: inhale for 3, hold for 4, and exhale to the count of 5.


Exercise

Getting into a regular exercise routine will help with stress levels as well. Find an activity that you enjoy! Because if you dread running then you won’t end up sticking to the routine. There are so many options for classes. Bridgeport offers Night Recreation for youth and young adults and the Senior Center has many classes for the older folks.


Seek help

Knowing when you need help is admirable. A professional can assist in teaching communication and how to deal with emotions. They can also provide support, coping mechanisms, and goals for managing your stress levels. Contact your local school, university, or Psychology Today is a great resource.


Get a massage

Therapeutic massage is another way to heal from high-stress times. Studies show that a regular massage increases your well-being. Therapeutic massages reduce anxiety, improve emotional resilience, and decrease in cortisol levels.


Cortisol regulates your sleep and blood pressure. So, if the levels are off, it can result in weight gain, anxiety and stress, sleep problems, headaches, and problems with digestion. Touch from a massage therapist reduces cortisol and increases serotonin which is the body’s “happy chemical”. After a massage, you will feel calm, relaxed, and increased clarity.


When incorporating changes into your lifestyle, it is important to remember to take it slow and not set unreasonable expectations for yourself or your family. If you overdo it or add in too many activities at once there is a higher risk of failing or giving up. Know your limits and add one or two of the suggestions above and once you are solid with the routine, then it is time to add another stress reliever to your daily routine.


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