Stress Stinks!

What a week this has been! I began my first week of practicum hours this week…AKA I saw my first clients ever-talk about a mixed bag of emotions. It’s been so incredibly exciting, but also very intimidating and stressful-the thought that these people are putting their trust in me to help them become the people they want to be…? Talk about pressure. Add on the huge comprehensive exam I have this Saturday (which covers everything I’ve learned thus far in grad school), and you’ve got a formula for STRESS! If you ever find yourself in a similar position, here are some stress busters for ya:

1. Work out: I know this is not new news to probably anyone, but it doesn’t have to be a full blown workout! Something I’ve found that helps when working out only sounds like it will increase my anxiety is to sprint, with 100% of my speed and energy, to the stop sign and back, even just once. I know this sounds silly, but expending that amount of energy may just get rid of that extra, unwanted nervous energy you have. Plus, sprints are amazing cardio workouts, not to mention those little things called endorphins that make us feel good-can you say killing two birds with one stone?

2. Disconnect: When I feel really stressed, and I don’t feel like explaining why to anyone, I find about about half hour to an hour in my schedule to be alone in a quiet place to reflect on what’s important, remind myself that it’s all going to be okay, and calm myself down. Life gets so busy, and when we don’t allow ourselves to reconnect with ourselves and disconnect from the always-moving world around us, it gets easy to let stress add up.

3. Do something sensory- I do this with my kids at work all the time, but it’s not AT ALL just for kids with Autism! Find something that you find stimulating to one or more of your senses. Are you in tune with music and sounds? If so, listen to some calming noises, like white noise. Music with heavy beats tend to work me up, so during weeks like this one, I tune in slower paced music, especially classical music in times of especially high stress. Other things you can do involve lighting a candle with a soothing scent, chewing a piece of sugar free gum, squeezing a stress ball, or, one of my personal favorites, give yourself a little massage or run your fingertips over your arms/legs. When I give my kids squeezes (squeezing their shoulders, arms, and legs gently but firmly) or “tickles” (running my fingertips over their arms) it’s an instant fix when they get over-stimulated. Like I said-this works for everyone though!

4. Sleep-I don’t know about you, but I get cranky and irritable when I don’t get enough sleep. Add stress into the mixture and I’m downright unpleasant. I find that a “power nap” (a quick snooze for about 20-30 minutes) refreshes me and gives me the boost I need to make it through the rest of the day without disrupting my ability to fall/stay asleep at night.

5. Smile!-This sounds cheesy, I know. But research shows that simply smiling, fake or genuine, actually makes you happier. The facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness-pretty awesome right? This is what I like to call “fake it till you make it.” But what’s easier (and more pleasant) than smiling!?

Using these simple exercises, I felt rejuvenated and much less anxious come Wednesday morning. Hope some of these work for you all!

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