There’s no doubt about it: optometry school is a stressful place, and students deal with this stress in different ways. Personally, I like to walk my newly adopted dog, listen and dance to music (even though I look silly doing so), and cook several times a week. Those activities allow me to clear my head and focus on something else that is important to me for just a little while. I have always appreciated the support available at RSO from students, faculty, and staff and I recently discovered a new resource. This week, I was able to attend a stress management workshop that all second year students get to participate in. At the workshop entitled “En Visioning Success,” we were introduced to the counselors from the UIW main campus who taught us techniques that we could use to help manage our stress.
First, we were able to share with our classmates techniques we have used recently to help relieve stress. Some included cooking, playing with their pets, Netflix, taking a nap, and even bizarrely enough, someone said they use studying as a stress reliever! It was great to hear other suggestions from students who are going through the same exact stress; maybe what works for them, will also work for me. We were then asked us to stand up and spread out around the room. Mr. Keith Tucker introduced us to techniques using martial arts with the combination of moving our whole bodies and speaking aloud, “YES!” We felt instantly energized. Next, pieces of paper with different aromatic oils were passed around.The counselors told us that relaxing smells could help relieve stress. My favorite was the peppermint oil. Soon thereafter, we took a “Stress Test” to give ourselves an idea of how well we currently manage our stress. See how you score below!
We all know coloring as a kid is fun. As an adult? Even better. I would highly recommend coloring mandalas on a regular basis. Most people were upset that they didn’t have time to finish coloring during the workshop. The counselors told us that using small repetitive motions (like the ones used for coloring) while being mindful of what you need to focus on can help you clear out all other information and be relaxing at the same time. Try coloring your own mandala!
We learned about the power of something called a “vision board” which can help you to visualize your goals. Putting pictures of what you want to succeed at or things you have already succeeded at, can help put you in the place of mind you want to be. Post-it notes are a great motivator as well. Writing things such as “You can do it!” or “I’m not perfect, and that’s okay” and seeing it in a familiar spot such as a mirror or window can really perk you up when you’re having a stressful day. Here are examples of my own post-it notes.
We also learned how to “refocus” during tests. You simply put your finger under your nose as if you’re telling someone “shhhh!” While holding your finger there, breathe in and out slowly and focus on the breaths. Even 30 seconds can refocus your mind and bring you back to where you need to be while taking a test. Muscle relaxation techniques are also very useful. I saw everyone come out of that workshop with smiling faces, and many told me afterwards that it did, in fact, help them reduce stress. I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more de-stressing techniques. Not only will they help me get through optometry school a little easier, but I can foresee myself using them for the rest of my life. For now, I have some coloring to get back to.