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Relaxation

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									               Take a deep breath…

               Relaxation
           …learning how to relax.


        Teens do more than ever before!
  Homework, tests, papers…practice, rehearsals,
    games, auditions…chores, jobs, volunteer
    work…family, friends, significant others…
             How do they do it all?



                      What is stress?




o Stress is caused by feelings of pressure or extreme responsibility,
  demands from obligations, personal expectations, or when one is
  being asked to handle more than they are used to.
  o For teens, this means…relationships (family conflicts, social
    obligations, peer pressure), dealing with grief or trauma (from
    death, injury/illness, or an accident), schoolwork, uncomfortable
    or dangerous living conditions, life-cycle transitions (hormones,
    body image, or personal feelings about one’s self), demanding
    schedules, or taking on too many activities.
  o Stress has physical, as well as mental/emotional effects.
       o Physically: Someone under stress may experience things
          like upset stomachs, headaches, aches and pains, and loss
          of sleep.
       o Mentally/Emotionally: Anxiety or panic attacks, irritability,
          feelings of exhaustion, worry and doubt, depression, to
          name a few.

                         Managing Stress
Stress is manageable both the short term and long term. Managing
stress is easy. Most stress management techniques can be done
easily, cheaply, and with little instruction or knowledge. Stress
management activities can be broken down into two categories; stress
relieving activities, and coping strategies.

                   Stress Relieving Activities




Stress relieving activities are things that can be done to release
feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, or similar side effects of stress.
   o Mental Activities:
    o Writing. Using a journal or a piece of paper to jot down
      thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Taking just a few minutes out of
      the day to express how your feeling can provide a wonderful
      sense of relief.
    o Meditation, self-hypnosis, visualization. These activities
      encourage the mind to focus on calming images, pictures, or
      sounds.
            Try it now! Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths,
            and imagine you’re in one of your favorite places, or
            doing something you personally enjoy. Maybe it’s
            picturing yourself laying on a beach, or thinking about
            your favorite vacation spot!
    o Music therapy. Music therapy can be as simple as taking a
      few minutes to sit down and listen to a favorite song, or as in
      depth as purchasing a CD for that purpose.
o Physical Activities:
    o Go for a run, or begin an exercise program. Physical activity
      doesn’t have to be aggressive. Even going for a walk can
      help. Engage in a sport or athletic activity that’s just for fun,
      and isn’t about competition. For example, playing a round of
      golf, or playing catch with a friend.
    o Get a good night’s sleep, or work a short nap into the day.
      Getting a good night’s sleep allows the body to heal and re-
      energize itself. When one is well rested stress is less likely
      to have such a negative affect on the body.
    o Breathing exercises. Many guides for breathing exercises
      can be found in books and on the internet, are relatively
      simple to learn, and are available for a variety of purposes
      (focus, relaxation, energizing, etc.).
            Try it now! Sit down, or lie down, clear your mind, and
            close your eyes. Inhale deeply through your nose and
         exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat ten of these
         deep breaths, and you’re likely to feel much more
         calm. Wasn’t that easy?
o Massage works to relieve stress because the sensation of
  touch provides a sense of healing. Professional massages
  are effective because they physically relieve pain and tense
  body part, but self-massage is just as effective. Rubbing
  one’s own hands or neck, for example, can prove to be
  soothing. Exchanging a quick shoulder rub with a friend or
  significant other is easy and effective.
o Aromatherapy is often provided as part of a massage
  experience, but with the availability of aromatherapy
  products like candles, oils, soaps, and incense at places as
  convenient as the grocery store one may find relief simply
  by burning a candle or taking a bubble bath.
         Scents like lavender, green tea, chamomile, rose, and
         vanilla are relaxing.
         Citrus scents, cinnamon, and peppermint are
         energizing if you need a quick pick up.
         Even smelling scents like fresh baked cookies or
         bread, or the familiar scent of a home cooked meal
         can be calming.
o Yoga also has immense benefits. Performing yoga involves
  stretching and opening up the body to release energy and
  utilize movements that the body is not typically accustomed
  to for the purpose of increasing blood flow and range of
  movement. Yoga also uses breathing exercises, and allows
  for much self exploration. One can check out instructional
  yoga videos from library or video rental store, download
  instructional guides from the internet, or sign up for classes
           that are relatively inexpensive at a park district or community
           center.

                         Coping Strategies




Coping strategies provide ideas for changes that can be made in
someone’s life to help relieve stress and prevent further stress. Using
coping strategies on a regular basis and allowing them to become
habitual is essential to managing stress in a healthy way.
  o Time management involves prioritizing tasks, not over-
     committing, avoiding procrastination, and following a schedule.
         o Make it work: Use a day planner to plan your day and what
            tasks you have to complete each day. Don’t be afraid to say
            no to a commitment you don’t have time for. Complete the
            important things first, and save the less pressing things for
            later.
  o Life style changes include cutting down on or avoiding alcohol,
     and cutting back or quitting nicotine and caffeine usage, eating a
     balanced diet, and getting enough sleep.
         o Make it work: Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages during
            the day. Eat breakfast, and healthy snacks throughout the
            day to keep your energy level high. Make it a goal to get to
            bed by a certain time of night to ensure you’re getting a full
            night’s sleep.
       o Talking to friends, family, or someone trustworthy about feelings
         or what one is going through can make stress much easier to deal
         with.
       o When stress becomes unmanageable or begins to have too
         negative an affect on one’s life seeking professional help is
         effective and recommended. A trained counselor or therapist can
         help in coping with the extreme troubles. Even when things start
         to seem a little rough it can never hurt to talk to someone who can
         help you sort through your feelings. A guidance counselor or
         social worker in your school is a wonderful resource and a great
         place to start.

                                          Links:
    Four Quick relaxation exercises from WebMD:
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/3/3232_857.htm

    Introduction to Meditation:
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/3/3232_857.htm

    Basic Yoga poses:
    http://www.indianmirror.com/games/gam8.html

    A little about Aromatherapy:
    http://www.holisticonline.com/Aromatherapy/hol_aroma.htm


                                       References

Bryson, Stewart J. Stress Management. 2 Jun 2005. Online. 15 Oct 2006.

    <http://www.webmd.com/hw/emotional_wellness/hw153409.asp>.
Grazian, Anthony P. Phone Interview 14 Oct 2006.

Lyness, D'Arcy Stress. Aug 2004. Online. 15 Oct 2006.

    <http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/emotions/stress.html>.

								
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