November 14 2015

Finals Are Coming!!!! 5 Ways to Overcome Stress by Marissa Licursi, Johns Hopkins University

It’s 2am.  You just spent an hour venting to your mom via text about how work is piling up and you are pressed for time to complete a never-ending list of to do’s.  The pressure is kind of unbearable. Hence why sleep is really not an option right now.
Everyone experiences stress. Whether it’s school work piling up or your boss driving you crazy with a mountain of tasks to get done, stress hits us all at some point. And it comes in waves.  Stress isn’t constant. Nope. It’s random and comes in sudden spurts.  And when it hits us, it HITS us. Tears us down.  Knocks us out.  Stress makes us feel like a small dot in a world that’s just too big. And it strips us of our confidence, big time.

Well, after years of dealing with the stress of exams, papers, presentations, research, interviews, and application submissions, I have slowly put together a list of things that allow me to handle stress in a healthy way:
1. WritingScreenshot 2015-11-14 08.27.22.  Or journaling. Or blogging. Whatever you want to call it.  Want to relieve stress? Write.  Send a massive text message to your best friend.  Write your mom an email.  Open up the Notes section on your phone.  Get a new Word doc open and type until you run out of thoughts. Or actually put a pen to paper in a journal.
2. Green Tea.  Or really any kind of tea you like (but Tazo Green is my favorite).  Drinking tea is soothing and will make you feel at home.  There is seriously nothing like a cup of hot green tea. Sometimes, this alone will do the trick.  Green Tea also has natural energizes that will keep you pepped up (without an overload of caffeine) and energized.
Screenshot 2015-11-14 08.27.36
Screenshot 2015-11-14 08.27.513. Inverted Yoga Wall Position (Viparita Karani, for my yoga lovers). Sounds super weird I know. This one is actually one of my favorites. Start by lying out a rug or mat on the floor near a wall. Lie down on the mat so that your back lies flat on the mat and your arms fall to your sides. Swing your legs up onto the wall, and inch your body closer to the wall so that eventually, your heels and tailbone are up against the wall. If you have lower back issues, just adjust yourself and move slightly back from the wall. Make sure that your head is rested on the mat, keep your spine and back straight, and slightly bend your knees so that your knees don’t lockout.  And take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling in a consistent rhythm.  Benefits of the pose? It allows your body to get blood flowing throughout your body, can alleviate cramps, and relieves back pain.  Most importantly, sitting in this (kind of strange) inverted position calms anxiety and stresses. When we’re stressed, we usually get migraines or some type of headache.  Getting into an inverted wall pose will actually relieve this discomfort, loosening areas of tension and allowing you to simply breathe. Doing this for even just five minutes can really go a long way in relieving your stress!  (Yoga Myth: some yogis actually believe that staying in this position for 8 hours a day will make you live forever!)

Screenshot 2015-11-14 08.28.034. Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga).  If you’ve never done one, you NEED to try a Bikram yoga class. Bikram Yoga (hot yoga) is a 90-minute class consisting of around 26 yoga postures, practiced in a heated room of anywhere between 100 °F and 110 °F. Yoga is known to increase both strength and flexibility, but hot yoga extends these benefits since the excessive sweating totally amps up the challenge!  If you are the kind of person that needs to get a good workout in and sweat a lot when when anxiety hits you, I can promise you that a Bikram yoga class will do the trick. The class will force you to focus on improving your balance, flexibility, and strength, and you will
By the end of a Bikram yoga class, you will have worked just about every muscle in your body and you will leave feeling refreshed and strong. And by then, you will probably have forgotten about all of the stresses in your life that actually motivated you coming to the class in the first place!  Also, the class is designed for all levels – whether a beginner or an advanced yogi – so I encourage anyone and everyone, regardless of experience, to try it out.

5. Drop your shoulders. When we’re stressed, our shoulders tend to rise up and get tight.  We often don’t even realize it.  Just drop your shoulders and stretch your body out a little.   

These techniques help me overcome what seems like at the time an impossible task.  Everyone is different so some may work for you and some may not.  You’ll have to do some experimenting to see what works for you. But the one thing that all these techniques have in common is that they are each healthy ways to overcome stress, keep your mind and body healthy, and maintain your confidence.
We’ve all been stressed.  We all have yet to be stressed in the future. It’s a natural part of life. It’s happens in spurts and its easy to feel like giving up when it hits us. But by using a couple of these tips to overcome stress, I promise you’ll relax yourself (even if it’s only temporary). Things as simple as drinking tea or resting our legs against a wall for 5 minutes can help rejuvenate us, keeping us confident and headstrong.
Want to read more great articles by Marissa?  [click here]

About Marissa Licursi

Hey, I’m Marissa!  I am from Rye, New York and am a junior at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in Economics with a double minor in Entrepreneurship & Management and Financial Economics. Greek Yogurt addict, organizational guru, fitness fanatic. I love traveling, music and spoken-word poetry.  Fun Facts?  I've kissed 3 stingrays, published a children's book, and can ride a motorcycle. Life mantra to live by? Confidence is your absolute best outfit. Wear it. Own it.

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