Tips From the Counseling Center

The JTS Counseling Center would like to offer you the following friendly survival tips:

Help for Stress Management

1. Take breaks. Take a break every one to two hours for fifteen minutes. Sitting in one place too long isn't going to get the job done. Your body and mind need a rest. Give it to them, and you'll reap the rewards.

2. Sleep enough. Studies show we need at least six hours of sleep a night to function at our best; most people require eight. Sometimes we think that we don't need that much sleep a night: physiologically, this is false. Young and old, tall and short, male or female, we all need around this much shut-eye to feel and do our best.

3. Drink water. Tempting though it is, try not to load up on caffeine and sugar to help you through the slumps. No matter what you tell yourself, they just don't work. You'll soar on high, yes, then suddenly crash into ultra-low gear. Slow and steady wins the race. The more hydrated you are, the more alert you'll be. Or, at least try green or white tea rather than black tea or coffee. They are full of antioxidants.

4. Make time to talk. Talk to people whose company you enjoy and who don't stress you out. If no one you know feels like a stress-free zone, please don't hesitate to give us a call here at the JTS Counseling Center (212) 280-6161. We're here to listen.

5. Exercise. This is key. Whether it's taking a walk at lunch or doing some jumping jacks and push-ups in your room, try to get some kind of blood-circulating activity for at least thirty minutes every other day. It's good for the body and the soul.

6. Breathe, breathe . . . and breathe again. The more anxious we are, the shallower our breathing becomes: this increases our anxiety. Here's a simple relaxation technique you can use when you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Breathe in to a count of four and then out to a count of four ("1001, 1002, 1003, 1004"). Do that four or five times.

7. Visualize relaxation. Take a deep breath. As you let it out, let your eyes close. Focus for a few moments on your breath gently coming in and going out. When you are comfortable, imagine snuggling down in a warm bed, lying on a beach at a favorite lake, or taking a luxurious warm bath. Or, visualize another scene that is calming and peaceful for you. Notice the sounds, smells, and other details of the surroundings as if you were actually there. Maintain the feelings of calm throughout the exercise and even afterward in your other activities.

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Winter Blues / Family Vacation Stress

Suggestions for navigating the month of Thanksgiving, family visits, and/or encroaching winter blahs:

1. Take time for yourself every day, even if it's just for ten minutes. Spend that time simply being. Remember to breathe, make a cup of tea, or read a book or magazine just for fun; do whatever you know that works to soothe and calm you.

2. Take advantage of natural-spectrum lightbulbs. Did you know that lack of sunlight in the darker months can be a significant cause of feeling lethargic, depressed, and disaffected? Get some of that sunshine back into your life by using lightbulbs that act on your system like actual sunlight.

3. Sleep six to eight hours every night. When you don't get enough sleep, your mind, spirit, and body often pay the price. Make sure you meet this most basic and crucial need.

4. Keep hydrated. We're 60 percent water. We need it! Drinking water gives you energy that you just can't get from coffee, Diet Coke, Red Bull, or any other liquid.

5. Breathe, breathe, breathe . . .When we get anxious, our breath gets shallower. This lessens our oxygen levels, which in turn makes us more anxious, which in turn makes our breath shallower. You can see the trend. Do yourself a favor and break the cycle. Breathe deeply and slowly five times in a row. If you have the time and inclination, do it ten times. Your psyche will thank you.

6. Get your blood flowing. Take a walk, a run, jump up and down in place. Do whatever you like, as long as it blows those mental cobwebs away, even if briefly.

7. Keep your sense of humor. Difficult to do, at times, but very important.

8. Talk to someone about it. Choose a friend or family member, or feel free to call the Counseling Center to meet with one of our counselors. Call (212) 280-6161. We're here for you.

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Tips for the New Year

1. Don't make a resolution you know you won't be able to keep or don't truly plan to carry out. It's okay and important to be very honest with yourself about this, otherwise any promise you make to yourself that you break (quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising two hours every day, etc.) will be setting you up for feeling worse about yourself than you did before you made that self-imposed vow.

2. The fact that one year is over and another has begun can feel like too much pressure. Try to take the long view. Time is relative: as abstract as it is concrete. One calendar day more or less does not, in fact, make all the difference between what you hope to accomplish and what you have actually achieved or will achieve.

3. If you insist on setting goals for yourself for the next year, give yourself a break and be realistic and reasonable. It is a fact that people who set smaller, more feasible goals for themselves are significantly more likely to achieve them than those who set lofty goals based on their fears and fantasies of what they're going to be able to do.

4. Instead of focusing on all that you didn't do this past year, try shifting your attention to looking at the things you have, in fact, accomplished.

5. Being too hard on yourself only gets you so far. Ultimately, it's no substitute for action.

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Getting Through Finals

1. Make a schedule and try to stick to it, BUT, if you can't or don't, then don't let one lapse become carte blanche to have a procrastination extravaganza.

2. Take a fifteen-minute break every one to two hours. Sitting in one place too long isn't going to get the job done. Your body and mind need a rest. Give it to them, and you'll reap the rewards.

3. Sleep enough. Studies show we need at least six hours of sleep a night to function at our best; most people require eight. Sometimes we think that we don't need that much sleep a night: physiologically, this is false. Young and old, tall and short, male or female, we all need around this much shut-eye to feel and do our best.

4. Tempting though it is, try not to load up on caffeine and sugar to help you through the slumps. No matter what you tell yourself, caffeine and sugar just don't work. You'll soar on high, yes, then suddenly crash into ultra-low gear. Slow and steady wins the race. Drink a lot of water instead. The more hydrated you are, the more alert you'll be. Or, at least try green or white tea, rather than black tea or coffee. At least they're full of antioxidants.

5. Make time to talk to people whose company you enjoy and who don't stress you out. Isolation from the human race will only make you feel worse when you're in study-crunch mode.

6. Circulation is key. Get your blood pumping, whether it's walking around the block or jumping in place for a few minutes.

7. Talk to a friend or family member who you know won't add to your stress level.

8. Talk to someone here at the Counseling Center: (212) 280-6161.

9. Remember: this, too shall pass.

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