Destressing can be as easy as a deep breath

Stress is a normal part of life, but does it have to be? Finding ways to cope with stress can be a challenge, but once you’ve achieved as stress-free lifestyle, your days will be filled with plenty of rewards and satisfaction ever after.

Lisa Barresi, Associate Director of Counseling Services at Northern Kentucky University, suggests many ways to relieve stress but believes that in order to do so, students need to know what it is.

“Stress is our emotional, physical, chemical and psychological response to change,” Barresi said. However, the change (what’s causing the stress) can be of any kind. Whether from a bad breakup with a boyfriend/girlfriend, the transition from high school to college, the death of a loved one or anything else, stress will usually arise. Not all stress is bad though.

“Many of it can be good, such as coming to college or graduating from college. Those are real exciting things for most people, but those are real changes and what can be stressful about change is the unknown,” Barresi said.

Lisa Besnoy, Assistant Director of Disability Services, said deep-breathing exercises can reduce stress. “Part of the deep breathing exercises is not only getting oxygen to your bloodstream, but also that slowing down process of taking deep breaths, maybe taking time to yourself and kind of regrouping.”

Students who are over-booked with too many commitments can also find ways of relief through stress management. “I would really urge them to stop and step back and try to take a look at what they’re doing and how they’re spending their time,” she said.

Barresi also suggests that students work to decide what is most important in their lives.

“Prioritizing can help people figure out ‘what do I need to focus my time on?'” Barresi said.

Those items on students’ lists may all be important, but not all at one time. “It’s being able to let go of that,” she said, referring to items that may not be as important when one looks at the big picture.

Barresi also provided some ways to relieve stress in general. She recommends that you maintain regular healthy eating habits and make sure you get plenty of sleep.

She also said exercising, listening to music, reading a book, or even writing in a journal are good stress relievers.

NKU offers counseling services free of charge for students feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Visit the Health and Counseling Center in University Center 300 or call extension