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Stress-Reduction Tips from the Chaplain's Office

December 6, 2017

As we head into one of the more stressful points of the semester – finals week – the staff at the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life offers some helpful advice for students.

Tips for Centering Yourself and Reducing Stress During Final Exams

Utilize one of the three great meditation spaces around campus for a 5-minute “sit” to settle your mind, or try some yoga stretches!

Keep a small bell around your study area.  Before you begin studying, pause to ring the bell, gently, and simply wait until the sound dissipates entirely.  The sound of a bell is known to have a physiological effect that reduces stress.  Periodically throughout your study time, or whenever you feel tension rising or tiredness setting in, pause again to ring the bell, wait for the length of the sound, and return to your work a little bit more refreshed and re-centered.  Here is a useful link if you’d like to learn more.

Grounding: Begin by feeling your feet connected to the earth/floor. Next, feel your body's weight being fully supported by your chair. Lastly, take deep slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

To Reduce anxiety when you sit for an exam, try these three tips: take a few deep breaths at the beginning and whenever you feel tense; widen your focus–look out the window to remind yourself that there is more to life than just this test; get present–bring your full self to the test by really noticing what is immediately in front of you: the paper, the pencil, the desk whenever you feel your focus wandering.

Walk on the TAM (Trail Around Middlebury):  Here’s the trail map and the website.

Visit The Knoll and Walk the Labyrinth: Sit on the stone bench blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his trip to campus in 2012 and contemplate the blessings we have just by living in such a beautiful place.

Get the kinks out of your body and brain: When we are busy studying, we often get tense muscles in our necks and shoulder. Or we start to feel problems from so much typing and mousing that can lead to repetitive stress syndrome. Here are a couple (of many) examples of meditative movement practices to help you get the kinks out:

Ten Mindful Movements by Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh

Whole Body Intelligence with Qi Gong