With the hectic pace of school and everyday life, your mental load can be very high. Assignments, exams, performance, and the amount of information you have to remember are just some of the elements that create a lot of stress and have an impact on your memory and concentration. Various relaxation and meditation methods exist and have been proven to calm this mental overwhelm. You just have to try them out to find the right one for you, and gradually integrate them into your daily routine to get the most out of them.  

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL RELAXATION 

Cardiac Coherence

The speed of your heartbeat influences your brain and is linked to your physical reactions when you’re under stress. Cardiac coherence enables us to regulate our heartbeat by adopting a regular breathing rhythm. To try it out, its useful to remember the number 365: 3 times a day (morning, noon, and evening), take 6 breaths per minute (5-second inhalation and 5-second exhalation) for 5 minutes.  

Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Jacobson’s muscle relaxation technique states that we experience less anxiety when our body and muscles are relaxed. To try it out, the technique is performed in 3 steps: induce tension in a muscle group (arms, shoulders, legs, feet, neck, face), hold for 5 seconds and release.   

Schultz Autogenic Training

Autogenic training is inspired by hypnosis and involves inducing sensations of weight and heat in different parts of the body. To try it out, lie down or sit with your eyes closed in a quiet place (with your back rounded and your chin to your chest) for 20 to 30 minutes. Then, repeat phrases related to your sensations (e.g., I breathe calmly, my arms feel warm, my legs feel heavy) and remain attentive to body sensations until all limbs have been considered. 

Visualization

Visualization consists in voluntarily creating an image or scene in your mind to change an unpleasant, anxiety-provoking psychological and emotional state into a pleasant, reassuring one. To try it out, you can visualize people, places, environments or scents that evoke positive memories. 

Body Scanning

Body scanning is a form of meditation in which you concentrate on each part of your body, from your toes to your head. To try it out, sit or lie on your back and focus for a few seconds on one part of your body, breathing deeply, before moving on to the next. 

MINDFULNESS 

Mindfulness is about taking time out to slow down and connect with what’s going on inside us and in our environment, in the present moment and without judgment.  This connection can be made through our senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. 

Acceptance is an important component of mindfulness. It can be difficult at times, but embracing emotion, rather than trying to run away from it or fight it, is part of a liberating process. Thus, practising mindfulness enables us to see our experiences differently, can help us cope with certain situations and reduce stress levels. 

There is no precise technique, and each person can practise it in a way that suits them. This downtime can be taken in a quiet place or simply integrated into your daily activities, whether in a group or walking alone on your way home from campus. This practice can also be carried out both informally and formally or combined with meditation if desired. Here are a few examples:  

  • Eat without distraction and concentrate on the flavours and sensations. 
  • Walk while observing your surroundings rather than thinking. 
  • Listen to your breathing. 
  • Concentrate on a conversation with a friend without any judgment. 
  • Examine your thoughts and feelings in greater depth. 

References

Flèche vers le bas

Centre RBC d’expertise universitaire en santé mentale. Stratégies pour apprivoiser mon stress

Université de Sherbrooke. (2014) Ici et maintenant

Université Laval .La relaxation

Université TELUQ. Relaxation progressive de Jacobson

Worsley, J.D. et al. (2022) Supporting mental health and wellbeing of university and college students: A systematic review of review-level evidence of interventions

Credits

Flèche vers le bas

Illustration : Mario Fontaine

Contribution to the article : Isabelle Queval, psychologist

Did you find this content useful?