As the holidays (and final exams) approach, focus on mental fitness for a more positive — and less stressful — experience. Amber Long, executive director of the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center, joined “Daybreak” on KWGN Channel 2 to share wellness tips and mindfulness techniques.
The holidays are often the busiest time of the year. This is especially true for students studying for final exams. Commitments to family and friends that should be joyous can easily become overwhelming. When life feels busy, healthy habits slip, and stress can take a toll.
Amber’s techniques to reduce stress, maintain balance and enhance resiliency:
Take a break
Schedule time for a break, and make it a priority. Even a five- or 10-minute break to breathe deeply, walk at lunch or get some form of physical activity helps to improve your focus and productivity. Visit the Student Wellness Center to get your heart rate up or to recharge in the nap room.
Effort not outcome
Focus on effort rather than outcomes of physical activity. At the Student Wellness Center, Long encourages students to appreciate the effort they invest in health behaviors. Enjoy the experience of doing a wellness activity to foster feelings of self-confidence and gratitude on the life-long journey of well-being. Outcome-driven thinking, as it relates to wellness, can be competitive and sometimes unrealistic, which breeds insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.
Remember that the only thing we can control is the present. Don’t expend energy worrying about the past or the future, which we can’t control. Pay attention to living in the present moment. Notice your breathing, taste your food, really take time to listen in conversation with others. Visit one of the reflection rooms in the Student Wellness Center.
Body language matters. Your body will feel fewer physical symptoms of stress as a result of changing your physical posture. Stand up straight, align the spine and smile. Smiling and a power posture are quick fixes for stress-related physical symptoms. Our bodies display stress in external ways. Headaches, gastrointestinal issues, sleeplessness and general aches and pains can often be attributed to stress. Even if you don’t experience severe symptoms, it’s likely you have experienced fatigue, general tightness around the neck and shoulders, and a slouchy, tired posture. This power posture is an instant boost.
Change the way you think. Take time for gratitude every single day.
Amber Long is the executive director of the Student Wellness Center CU Denver, a certified health coach, personal trainer and fitness instructor.