Managing stress through movement

With final exams and graduation fast approaching, many students are stressed about end-of-semester projects and job hunting. This stress can get overwhelming, and sometimes you need an outlet. Pakou Lee and Sabrina Mercedes decided to help students with their Movement as Medicine workshop to help combat stress.

“Movement as Medicine is a way that I have personally been able to physically move stress or trauma out of my body through stretching, walking, dancing, or exercising,” said Lee.

The event aimed to inform students how they can help themselves by doing something even as small as a short walk.

“I hope to give tools to others struggling with chronic pain, trauma, or stress. I want people to realize that we have a powerful bond between our body and mind,” said Mercedes.

Stress can manifest itself in different ways. For Mercedes, she would notice her shoulders and neck tensing whenever she was anxious. Lee noticed similar symptoms as well. Each took a slightly different approach to their problem.

“I have learned that going for a walk outside, or even sticking my face outside if it’s cold, is a way to release the tension I feel in my shoulders and neck,” Mercedes said.

“I notice that when I’m in a stressful situation, my shoulders tense, and my breathing gets quicker. Just doing a quick breath check can help me to release some of that stress,” Lee said.

While these techniques are simple, they are important. As students, screens surround us, and we often sit down for long periods. These inputs and actions can leave our minds and bodies spiraling.

“We live in a world where we are consumed by screens, and remembering that we can comfort ourselves through movement, dance, or exercise can be a powerful tool whenever practiced,” said Mercedes.

Lee had similar thoughts.

“We live in a fast-paced society, and slowing down to be aware of your breathing and body language can help you stay in tune with yourself.”

But while it is important to move your body, if you don’t listen to it, you could end up hurting yourself.

“I advise you to focus on how your body feels versus how it looks when exploring movement and wellness. Move your body slowly, and if you’re in pain, please stop. We cannot grow stronger if we push ourselves into an injury. Listen to your body and honor that rest is a form of caring for yourself,” said Mercedes.

Students seeking further information on using movement as medicine should contact Mercedes at SafeRelations.Sabrina@gmail.com or follow @SafeRelations on Instagram. 

Header Photo: Sabrina Mercedes spearheaded the Movement as Medicine talk. She taught students how to cope with life stress through movement, dance or exercise, and how powerful of a tool movement can be. (Courtesy Sabrina Mercedes)

Write to Kendall Larson at kendall.larson@mnsu.edu

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