Stress Relief

Author: Christi Kowalewski (Hon. Ba. Kinesiology, C.P.T., C.P.A.F.L.A.)
‘Tis once again that time of year when although the school year is finally winding down, the stress of final exams is looming. Because optimal academic performance is essential during exam time, it is important to ensure that we are at our peak mental health – and this means managing our stress.
“Stress”, as we think of it, is actually a biochemical reaction involving the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal gland. Typically, this release is your body’s “fight-or-flight” reaction which physically prepares you to deal with a stressor. Some indications that you are stressed include:

· Rapid pulse
· Increased breathing rate
· Muscle tension
· Increased blood pressure
· Rise in blood sugar

Typically, these responses are to prepare the body to deal with a physical stressor – however, because the dread of final exams hardly requires a physical response, the body is left with no outlet to release its pent up pressure. This is where exercise comes in…
Exercise provides a physical outlet for your stress. It is a great way to help relieve the stress of exams and calm your nerves. It helps clear the mind and can improve focus and mental acuteness. Some excellent ways you can incorporate activity into your study schedule to reduce your stress levels include:

Attend a Stretch Class – this class helps improve flexibility, with slow, relaxed static stretching. Stretch will be offered regularly throughout the exam period, check the new Spring Exam Schedule for details!
Shoot Some Hoops
– both gyms will be open regularly for drop-in sports. Who says you can’t afford to take a 30 minute study break to relieve a little stress.
· Take a Walk – you’ve been hunched over those texts for hours on end and your eyes are starting to water from the constant strain. Why not take a brisk walk around campus? The weather is getting warmer and both the fresh air and the physical activity will rejuvenate your senses for your next cram session.
· Do Yoga – whether it’s in class or with a home video, regular yoga, pilates or meditation practice can help reduce muscle tension, improve posture and regulate breathing patterns. Check the new Spring Brochure or the yellow pages for local London area yoga studios.
· Pump Iron – lifting weights is the perfect way to rid you of any pent up anxiety. If you are lacking in time, make it a power workout session and go hardcore for only 30mins before you hit the textbooks again.

As you can see there are a multiple ways to include exercise into your study schedule. It doesn’t have to take all afternoon and can be worked into any exam schedule leaving you energized and mentally prepared to deal with the pressure.

While exercise is a great way to calm your nerves, other intrinsic choices are also available. These introspective stress-reducing options include:
· Taking a relaxing dip in the bath or hot tub.
· Booking a massage treatment.
· Listen to soft music or light an aromatherapy candle.