10 Ways to Relieve the Stress of Going Back to School as an Adult

Does the thought of going back to school as an adult completely stress you out? It's understandable. You balance work, life, and probably a pet or two. Throw school into the mix and you might just reach your tipping point. At least one of our 10 ways to relieve stress will be a good fit for you. Try all 10 and you'll be sailing through college.

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I know, this is something you normally do all day every day without having to think about it, but think about it right now. Notice your breath. Is it tight and shallow? Short? When stressed, we tend to "hold" ourselves, tighten our muscles, which makes breathing more difficult.

Take a long, deep breath, as deep as you can. Let your abdomen expand. As you let it out, melt into whatever is beneath you---your chair, your bed, the floor. Do it again. Let go of every worry. Relax every little muscle. Start at the top of your head and let go of your forehead, your eyebrows, your mouth, neck, shoulders, every muscle all the way down your body. Let it all melt down.

Doesn't that feel better?

Remember to breathe.

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Meditation is one of the great secrets in life. If you're already someone who meditates, remember to take a few minutes every day. It's an easy thing to eliminate when we get stressed, but it's one of the most helpful things we can do to relieve stress.

If you don't meditate, give yourself a gift and learn how. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it. You can also visit a nearby meditation center, they're in almost every city, or buy yourself a CD program. There are lots of good ones out there.

Consider some of the products out there to help you learn to meditate. Phylameana lila Desy, About.com's Guide to Holistic Healing, describes her favorites in 10 Meditation Aids/Tools.

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Drink Tea

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There's something wonderful about drinking a hot beverage. Soup has the same effect. Tea comes in so many varieties, and many have healing qualities. Although most have low levels of caffeine, if you don't want any caffeine, choose an herbal tea with a flavor and aroma you find beautiful and relaxing.

One of my favorites is licorice. When I drink licorice tea, the world disappears.

Sean Paajanen, Coffee and Tea Expert at About.com, explains the different Types of Tea.

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Commune With Nature

Active Learning by Photodisc - Getty Images
Photodisc - Getty Images

One of the very best ways to get away from it all is to simply go outside. Communing with nature just plain feels good. There are so many wondrous plants, birds, insects, even cloud formations, that can get us outside of ourselves and back into the big picture of life and all of its mysteries.

If you can, touch what you see. Feel how soft a flower petal is, touch the sharpness of a pine needle tip, the roughness of tree bark. Look for the tiny little things that live in the grass. If you don't see nature around you when you walk out your door, take yourself to the nearest park.

At the very least, play with your dog.

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Walk It Off

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Besides being one of the safest forms of exercise, walking is immensely therapeutic. Put on some good walking shoes, grab a bottle of water, and head out in whichever direction piques your interest. Let your thoughts flow in and right back out again. Walking is meditation in motion. Swing your arms naturally. Look around you without judgment of any kind. Just walk at whatever speed your body wants to go, and feel relaxation take over.

When you return from a walk, chances are good you'll see your work with fresh eyes.

Walking For Your Mind and Spirit by Wendy Bumgardner, About.com's Walking Expert, expands on this idea.

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Turn Up the Music

Bambu Productions - Getty Images
Bambu Productions - Getty Images

While loud music isn't exactly healthy for your ears, it has a way of flooding out worries. It takes us over and fills us up with sound. Get up from your desk, turn up the music, your choice, and get lost in it. Really listen to it. Focusing solely on the music and nothing else is another form of meditation.

Just don't damage your ears or you'll have stress of a more lasting kind, and nobody wants that.

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I know, a lot of us can't dance. Not well enough to do it publicly, at least not without some degree of humiliation, which isn't exactly stress relieving.

I'm talking about dancing to your heart's content all alone in your living room. If you've got a friend you can be goofy with, that's even more fun.

Turn on some dancing music, kick off your shoes, close the draperies if you need to, and let your body move. Dance until you feel like dropping, and then drop. I promise you'll feel relaxed and happy.

For more on the health benefits of dancing, read Treva Bedinghaus's Top 4 Health Benefits of Dancing. She's the Dance Expert at About.com.

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Give a Hug, Get a Hug

Hug - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc - Blend Images - GettyImages-543196071
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc - Blend Images - GettyImages-543196071

Experts say that people who are touched are happier people. Does anyone touch you? Are you a toucher? Obviously, touching is a matter that requires discretion. You can't just walk around touching people, especially in the workplace. Always be careful to observe harassment laws, people's personal space, and just plain good sense.

If you have someone to hug, hug every day. Heck, hug every time you get a chance. Hug your dog! Hugs send endorphins through your body that make you feel better.

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Get a Massage

Getting a massage is the ultimate gift of touch. If you haven't ever had a professional massage, do a little research, get a recommendation if you can from someone you trust, and go get a massage. Even 30 minutes can take all your cares away. If you have the time and the money for 60 minutes, you'll be in heaven for an hour.

Anitra Brown, About.com's Spas Expert, has more information for you about The Health Benefits of Massage.

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They say that "acting as if" is almost as good as making something true. When you smile, it's almost impossible to feel negative emotions.

Check out 10 Reasons to Smile from About.com's Longevity Expert, Mark Stibich, Ph.D.

Smile. You'll not only feel better, you'll look better.

Be sure to visit About.com's Stress Expert, Elizabeth Scott. She has all kinds of info for you about dealing with stress.