NYU students report stress more than any other factor as having an effect on their academic performance. Stress doesn't only take a toll on your academics; your physical, emotional and cognitive functions can suffer as well.
Although stress can feel overwhelming, there are many ways you can cope with and manage it. Simple activities like focused breathing, meditation and mindfulness practice are some ways to get started.
Stressbusters are here to fight stress with free 5-minute backrubs and helpful stress relief information for NYU students. Check out the Stressbusters page to learn more.
STRESS RELIEF STRATEGIES
ROLL YOUR HEAD. Coax your neck and shoulder muscles into relaxation. Slowly and gently drop your head forward, roll it to your right shoulder and pause; roll it backward to the center of your shoulders and pause; roll it to your left shoulder and pause; roll it forward to the center of your chest and pause. Continuing to move slowly, reverse direction and go back around.
STRETCH. Wherever you are, pause to stretch your body and you will feel it loosen up and become more relaxed. Just stand up and reach for the sky! If you liked that, try a yoga class. Yoga opens up an entire world of stretches as well as deep breathing and mindfulness – all good for relieving stress. There are several free yoga classes every week for NYU students. Learn more here or search “yoga” on nyu.edu.
GET A MASSAGE. Have someone else help you relax. Physical touch can feel wonderful and supportive when you are tense. Treat yourself at a spa, pair up with a friend who needs stress relief and trade massages or enlist NYU Stressbusters for free 5-minute backrubs.
EXERCISE. All types of physical activity – aerobic, strength training, stretching – can relieve stress by improving overall wellbeing. Even the most gentle and basic exercises can boost endorphins and make you feel good and less stressed out.
STAY HYDRATED. Support vital bodily functions by drinking plenty of fluids. This can reduce the physical stress that you feel in your body and keep levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, down. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated and NYC has excellent tap water, so keep a refillable bottle on you and sip regularly.
COUNT TO TEN. Slow down your thoughts to gain a more positive outlook on the stressful situation at hand. Breathe deeply, count slowly and ask yourself: “What’s the best way to handle this?”
STOP NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. In times of stress, the imagination can veer off in unpleasant directions if allowed to do so. To gain control of negative thoughts or worries, imagine yelling “STOP!” as loudly as you can in your mind. The more you practice this technique, the more it will help you to shut out angry or negative thoughts.
TAKE A BRAIN VACATION. Give yourself a moment to remember an experience that you enjoyed or to picture a place where you feel really good. Make a list of some of the places or activities that make you feel relaxed and good about yourself. Next time you need to “get away” refer to this list, close your eyes, and take a little break.
IGNORE THE PROBLEM. Many problems just don’t need to be dealt with or can’t be solved right now. Forget about the problem at hand by doing something more important or just relax and unwind. When you revisit the problem later, you may find it’s easier to deal with.
If your stress ever feels overwhelming, you can call the Wellness Exchange: (212) 443-9999.
These apps can help you manage stress.
Calm – Free
Calm can help you meditate, sleep, relax, focus and more. It features a 7-step meditation program, blissful music tracks, and guided meditation sessions for focus, relaxation, energy, creativity and sleep.
Personal Zen* – Free
Personal Zen is a fun game that’s clinically proven to reduce stress. Built by a team of neuroscientists and mobile developers, Personal Zen actually retrains your brain to lower stress and anxiety.
Stress Check – Free/ $1.99 (pro)
Developed by clinical psychologists, this app is an assessment tool that helps users understand and manage their personal stress.
Enjoy the deep relaxation, stress relief and benefits of meditation with this app. The app gives you the option to listen with or without music or nature sounds. You can also listen to relaxing music and nature sounds alone.
MindShift – Free
Learn to relax and identify active steps to take charge of anxiety. This app includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools aimed at: test anxiety, perfectionism, social anxiety, performance anxiety, worry, panic and conflict.
T2 Mood Tracker – Free
Developed by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app allows users to monitor their moods on six pre-loaded scales: anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress and general well-being. Users can also track their progression in other unique areas.
Headspace – Free
This app uses meditation and mindfulness techniques. Learn the basics of meditation, personalize a progress page and access hundreds of hours of original meditations. The app also features reminders to help you stay on track, and a “buddy system” for you and your friends to motivate each other.
*Please note that this app is only available for download on iPhone
MINI BREATHING EXERCISES
These focused breathing exercises use the breath to reduce anxiety, tension and stress immediately. You can do them with your eyes open or closed — anytime or anyplace.
Good times for a mini
While stuck in traffic… when put on hold during a phone call… in your doctor’s waiting room… when someone says something that bothers you… at a red light… waiting for a phone call… in the dentist’s chair… when you’re overwhelmed with what you need to accomplish… in line… when you’re in pain… while waiting for or in an elevator… right before a big exam… any time you’re feeling stressed!
How to do a mini
Switch to diaphragmatic breathing: Breath deeply through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. With each breath in, allow your belly to expand, with each breath out, allow your belly to be soft again. If this is difficult, just try to breath more slowly, focusing on the exhale. Soften your stomach muscles and let your belly be loose. This will help you breath more easily. Use this breath for the four mini breathing exercises listed below.
Mini #1: Countdown
Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
Mini #2: Take 4
As you inhale, count up very slowly to four. As you exhale, count slowly back down to one. Repeat this several times.
Mini #3: The Pause
Breathe slowly in and out. Pause for a few seconds after you inhale. Pause again after you exhale. Do this for several breaths.
Mini #4: Diaphragmatic breathing practice
Lie on your stomach with your legs a comfortable distance apart. Fold your arms in front of your body so that your hands rest on opposite elbows. Rest your forehead on your forearms. Study the sensations of breathing with your diaphragm. Notice the rhythm of your breath and how your belly expands when you inhale and contracts when you exhale.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
With this relaxation technique, you focus on muscle groups one by one. This reduces anxiety and tension immediately by allowing you to become more aware of physical sensations. You can do this with your eyes open or closed.
These steps will guide you through progressive muscle relaxation starting at your toes and working your way up to your neck and head.
Take a few moments to relax, breathing in and out slowly and deeply.
When you're relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take
a moment to focus on the way it feels.
Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can for a count of 10.
Next, relax your foot, and focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
When you're ready, shift your attention to your left foot and follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release while you pay attention to the sensations.
Slowly work up through your body — legs, abdomen, back, arms, neck, face — contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
Student rapid relaxation force trained to provide free five-minute backrubs and stress information to other students across campus
726 Broadway, Suite 341
726 Broadway, Suite 471
Free downloads for guided relaxation exercises, yoga pose references, and a list of mindfulness resources
Student organization focused on the benefits of mindfulness, including meditation, present-moment awareness and finding peace in everyday life
Global Center for Spiritual Life
238 Thompson St., 4th Floor
Center for Multicultural Education and Programs
Kimmel Center for University Life
60 Washington Square South, Suite 806
Kimmel Center for University Life
60 Washington Square South, Suite 602
Moses Center for Students with Disabilities
726 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Office of Global Services
561 LaGuardia Place and
5 MetroTech Center, Room 230
An anonymous, confidential, online resource center, with searchable information about emotional health
Stress management information and resources
Sleep, sleep hygiene, and sleep disorder information
Information on mental health basics, disorders, how to talk to others, and how to get help
Anxiety can be an underlying cause of stress. This website provides information on Anxiety Disorders