- Did you know research shows that listening to music can actually relax your brain and your body? Click on one of the links below and you'll sink into visually cool images, and soothing ambient music.
Health benefits of music documented by research:
• Reduced muscle tension
• Decreased anxiety/agitation
• Increased motivation
Source: American Music Therapy Association
For more information on the health benefits of music read the About.com article "Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health"
Ultima Thule Ambient Music (video) / First Sleep by Cliff Martinez
Ultima Thule Ambient Music (video) / An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno
Ultima Thule Ambient Music (video) / All the Big Trees by Jon Birgisson and Alex Somers
Ultima Thule Ambient Music (video) / Indiga Once Again by Richard Bone
Echoes In The Deep - Ambient Ocean Music
Enya "Carribean Blue"
Sol Seppy, "Enter One"
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- Feeling stressed? We recommend that you take an arm chair vacation. Browse through the list below and pick your new favorite destination. You can swim underwater with tropical fish, take off into space, fly above the clouds in an airplane, or sit next to a lake at sunset. It's your choice. We recommend that as you look at these videos you become aware of your breathing and focus on taking slower and deeper breaths. If you feel especially stressed we recommend viewing one of the space videos. Soaring through the start above the earth helps to give earthly problems a whole new perspective.
- Find the sound of a gentle rain soothing? The link below has a long running rainstorm just for you.
- This is website offers video of soothing waves rolling into four different natural settings.
- If you need to slow down this site encourages you to sit and do nothing for a full two minutes while viewing a sunset.
Do Nothing for 2 Minutes
- Want to get away? Sit next to a river in Costa Rica!
Costa Rican River
- Experience the sight and sound of this waterfall.
- Travel to different ocean shores for 22-minutes; soak in rolling waves and calming music.
Ocean Shores Worldwide
- A babbling stream running through islands of small green plants. By Okanokumo.
- A purple sunset over a calm lake. By Okanokumo.
- White water falling off red rocks into calm pools, it doesn’t get better than this.
- Lay on your back in a golden Aspen Forest.
- Use Gentle rain shower in a forest.
Experience an Underwater Adventure
- Swim along a coral reef with hundreds of tropical fish.
- Swim through calm waters with big turtles.
- Here's a virtual aquarium that you can enjoy and never have to clean.
- Swim with dolphins near a deserted island.
Swim With Dolphins
Experience Travel into Space
- A space journey.
- Floating amongst the stars.
Experience Flying Above The Clouds
- A journey through the clouds.
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- Guided imagery to help you breathe and relax.
Breathe and Relax
- The ultimate five minute breathing exercise! Breathe a cosmic flower in and out to the slow tempo of Tibetan bells.
- Guided breathing experience teaches you how to stop your stress reaction.
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Stress Buster Games:
- Build your own Kaleidoscope
You can create a kaleidoscope by dragging colorful shapes into a circle. The images cycle automatically, and can be very relaxing to watch. Which is more fun: creating the kaleidoscope, or viewing it as you go? You decide! Either way, it’s relaxing and fun, and it takes your mind off of your stress for a few minutes.
- This website offers great variety of games to play to keep your mind thinking and working but as a break from studying.
Games for the Brain
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- Meditation has lots of benefits including: reducing stress, increasing concentration, promoting spontaneity and creativity, all leading to happiness and peace of mind.
- 15 minute meditation
- Meditation with rainforest noise
- Guided Meditation for Beginners
- Guided Mediation and Deep Relaxation
- Deep Mediation Music + Theta Waves
What are the benefits?
- Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.
For more information on the science of meditation, read the article below from Psychology Today.
- The following information is from the Meditation Center. Please visit their website for more comprehensive information on meditation.
The Meditation Center
Meditation provides unparalleled benefits to all of the major categories of human existence: Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual:
Physical Benefits: Through deep-breathing, which is the backbone of any meditation practice, muscle fatigue and tension are reduced by increasing the circulation of oxygen to the muscles. Meditation has also been proven to lower high blood pressure due to its stress-reducing benefits. Meditation also helps to strengthen the immune system as well. Meditation induces the relaxation response which reduces the occurance of pain, insomnia and headaches. Another major physical benefit of meditation is unlimited energy. Meditation helps you to create an eternal and infinite flow of pure lifeforce energy. Our incredible universe has enough energy to keep all the stars in the sky moving and flowing in perfect harmony for billions of years, so it definitely has more than enough energy for you as well and meditation will help you tap into it permanently.
Emotional Benefits: Less irritability, reduction in the "fight or flight" response, and more emotional self-control. Helps bring perspective when confronted with a crisis thus making the crisis more manageable. Managing our modern daily lives can become quite overwhelming when you factor in traffic jams, work related stress, toxicity overload and seemingly unmanageable schedules. Taking a small amount of daily time to meditate can bring the perspective you need to manage your busy schedule and bring back a feeling of "I can handle this". Meditation will allow your senses to be heightened and aroused even during routine tasks, making your day more enjoyable. You will start enjoying the subtleties of life again like the smell of fresh laundry or the feel of the road as you drive or the color of the morning sky. Learning to integrate all the senses in your daily life, through meditation, will bring a myriad of emotional benefits and fullness to your life and help you become a better observer. By being a better observer you can respond to situations rather than react, meaning you can act appropriately when you feel inspired or compelled to and in perfect timing.
Mental Benefits: Better mental focus, concentration and creativity. Less stress and anxiety and greater peace of mind. Meditation seeks to bring harmful and counter-productive thoughts and feelings to the surface within you, quell them and help you gain the necessary perspective to invoke more truth and reality in your life. The mental benefits of meditation, if regularly practiced, are long lasting and eventually become permanent. Unlike drugs or alcohol, meditation does not need to be obtained or paid for and you will never run the risk of driving while impaired or face legal ramifications for doing it. Meditation is THE healthy replacement to drugs and alcohol and is the ultimate anti-addiction medication.
Spiritual Benefits: Greater self-awareness, the feeling of being more "connected" and a greater sense of purpose, along with the added benefit of helping you to resolve past issues that tend to get buried in the psyche and cause difficulties for you on an unconscious level. The process of becoming spiritually enlightened through meditation can be difficult, however, and does not happen overnight, although desirable benefits are noticed immediately, meditation is an ongoing process and a person must explore his or her own darker side in order to find and illuminate one's own inner light and one must be willing to continually change and evolve on a daily basis. Meditation is not a destination but a fascinating journey where you will become more awakened to your true self.
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- Great PDF with Accupressure tips for Stress Relief
- Quick and Easy Techniques for Anxiety Panic Attach Using Acupressure
- Simple Acupressure Step for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Sleep Disorder
- Relieve Stress with Facial Acupressure
- Self-Hand Massage Techniques
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- In order to better manage your stress, or any problem, it's always a good idea to assess the situation in order to have a more targeted solution. The links below will give you some insight into how you handle stress, how vulnerable you are to stress, what major life events are contributing to your stress, and more. These assessments are for entertainment and self-awareness purposes only.
- This link has several different types of stress assessments that automatically score your answers.
- How do you handle stress?
- What is your vulnerability to stress?
- What major life events may be causing you stress?
Causes of Stress
- You feel stressed but how stressed are you really? Take this quiz and find out.
- This is a good stress assessment tool from the folks at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic Stress Assessment
- Mayo Clinic: collection of stress related articles
- Learn how to manage your time and reduce stress with resources on campus:
UIC Counseling Center
UIC Wellness Center
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- Aromatherapy can have powerful impacts on the human body. However, it is important to note that all essential oils are very concentrated and can be irritating if directly applied to the skin. They must be mixed with a soothing oil like Jojoba or baby oil. For more information on safety tips, go to www.aromatherapy.com/safety.html
- Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
The inhaled aroma from these "essential" oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.
According to the American Cancer Society, Aromatherapy is promoted as a natural way to help patients cope with stress, chronic pain, nausea, and depression and to produce a feeling of well-being. Proponents also claim aromatherapy can help relieve bacterial infections; stimulate the immune system; fight colds, flu, and sore throats; improve urine production; increase circulation; and cure cystitis, herpes simplex, acne, headaches, indigestion, premenstrual syndrome, muscle tension, and even cancer. Fragrances from different oils are promoted to have specific health benefits. For example, lavender oil is promoted to relieve muscle tension, anxiety, and insomnia.
There are different ideas as to how aromatherapy may work. Scent receptors in the nose are known to send chemical messages through the olfactory nerve to the brain’s limbic region, which influences emotional responses, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Some proponents say these connections explain the effects of essential oils’ smells. The effects may partly depend on a person’s previous associations or recalled experiences with a particular scent. Others say the oils are absorbed directly into the system through the skin.
- Aromatherapy.Com offers a quick list of Essential oils and their benefits:
Lavender:known to be calming, used for insomnia. General first aid, burns, bites. Use in baths (wonderful), massage, perfumes, inhalation.
Tea Tree: Antibacterial, Antiviral and Anti fungal. Used for cuts, bites, dandruff, athletes foot. A must for any first aid kit.
Eucalyptus: A must have for this time of year. Helps to fight against cold/flu germs. It is a powerful treatment against respiratory issues. In addition it is used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, decongestant, diuretic and stimulant. It also has cooling properties, which gives it deodorizing characteristics; therefore, it helps fight migraines and fevers. This cooling capability also helps with muscle aches and pains.
Orange: It serves as a detoxifier, boosts immunity, and treats constipation. It is calming, yet uplifting, and blends well with the other citrus oils and Lavender. It's antidepressant quality gives a happy, relaxed feeling and works as a mood lifter. It has also been known to increase concentration, and it is very good for maintaining a healthy, smooth, and glamorous skin.
Peppermint: Energizes, great when studying for exams. Reduces nausea and headache. Improves digestion.
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-EXPLORE NATURAL DE-STRESSORS-
- Exercise -- Stress is often the result of boredom, excessive worrying, and job burnout. Exercise loosens tense muscles, takes the mind away from worries, and releases pain-suppressing endorphins that promote the feeling of calmness and well-being. It also improves circulation that is otherwise abnormally hampered by stress. Sports is a good form of exercise. Visit Campus Recreation facilities on East Campus and West Campus to work out and even swim a lap in the pool. Visit the website for locations and hours.
Campus Recreation Facilities
- Yawn, Stretch, Sing -- If exercise is not feasible for the moment, yawning and stretching are excellent alternatives. The additional intake of oxygen, and the stretching of cramped muscles and joints, helps relax the body even for brief periods during the day. Deep breathing at regular intervals also helps provide adequate oxygen to the body, which is why singing is a good relaxant.
- Appreciate Art -- Therapists swear that music, painting, gardening, needlework, and other such artistic hobbies help relieve the ill effects of stress. Focusing on heartwarming things of beauty takes the mind away from stress-related worries.
- Bathe in Relaxing Oils -- Lavender and lemon-balm oils are known to release aromatic relaxants. They can be added to the bath water or diluted and rubbed gently over the body after a shower. Widely used in aromatherapy, these oils are effective in relieving insomnia and nervous tension.
- Take Vitamin Supplements -- The acclaimed calming and anxiety-busting vitamins are: calcium (at least 1000 milligrams/day), magnesium (500 milligrams/day), folic acid (600 milligrams/day), B6 (2 milligrams/day) and B12 (100 milligrams/day). Deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to a weakened stress tolerance.
- Snack on Nuts -- Rich in magnesium and B vitamins, nuts have been included in the list of natural sources of vitamins and minerals that help relieve stress and increase concentration. Remember, though, moderation is key.
- Avoid Stimulants -- Sugar and caffeine induce the release of stress hormones -- sodas and coffee pump up adrenaline to keep one awake and alert. Excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine, however, can impair stress tolerance. A constant state of stimulation can lead to nervous tension, anxiety, and depression.
- Scalp Massager
This is a very simple tool (it looks like a multi-pronged metal spider) that will do wonders for your overall wellbeing. It’s a great way to relieve tension and stimulate blood flow, and studies have shown that a scalp massage can increase the production of certain chemicals in the body, including endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals can help put you in a better mood, reducing your overall stress and preparing you for relaxation
- Sea Salt and Noni Foot Bath
Soaking your feet in noni juice is just what the doctor ordered. Warm up some water, pour in sea salt and 100% pure noni juice and soak your feet for 20 - 25 minutes. Noni juice can be found in health food stores; look for the 100% pure liquid noni in the supplement section. When it comes to promoting relaxation, noni is also loaded with over 120 natural compounds, most of which are alkalinizing and many of them are essential minerals for overall balanced health. The sea salt also has great soothing properties. As we become stressed, our bodies become acidic; this foot soak will help balance our pH because salt is a great equalizer. Noni is also a natural anti-fungal.
- Green Tea:
One of the important health benefits of regular green tea drinking is improved memory and learning ability. In Japan there was revealed that high green tea drinking maintains cognitive function. Also, green tea consumption may enhance learning and memory ability.
The main components of green tea that are thought to work on improving brain function are polyphenols, epigalochatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a very strong antioxidant. The high use of oxygen during the metabolic processes leads to the generation of a large number of free radicals (highly reactive molecules). EGCG can penetrate the brain's blood barrier and is able to enact its antioxidative affects on the free radicals that cause damage in the brain.
Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family. Its aroma has been shown in human studies to slow down heart rate, slow blood pressure and put you in a parasympathetic state, which is a relaxed state
For more information on lavender, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal
- Hot Bath:
It is unlikely that a doctor today would tell a patient to take a bath for protection, but most physicians do recognize that a hot bath can help you relax and reduce stress, which we know is important in disease prevention. The act of bathing stimulates blood circulation and calms the nervous system. It can also help relieve common aches and pains associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps, inflammation, hemorrhoids, muscle pains and spasms. If you have a difficult time sleeping, try taking a bath right before bedtime.
Tips for a relaxing hot bath
- Epsom Salt:
It is because of the anti-inflammation properties of magnesium sulphate that Epsom Salt baths are generally recommended to women who are looking to relax through long hot baths. The Epsom Salt council also suggests that the magnesium in Epsom salts help in reducing stress and in improving sleep.
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-GET A MASSAGE-
UIC Campus Recreation Massage Therapy:
- Massage therapy is a series of manual soft tissue manipulations that includes holding, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body that is aimed at achieving or increasing health and wellness.
- UIC Campus Recreation’s Massage Therapy Program was created to provide quality, professional, individual massage therapy sessions to the faculty, staff and students of the University of Illinois at Chicago. General Public are also eligible.
All UIC Campus Recreation massage therapists are certified through an accredited massage therapy school with a minimum of 500 hours of training and education and are licensed in the state of Illinois.
Massage Fees UIC Affiliation Length and Cost:
Students 30 min. $28.00 1 hour $45.00
Members 30 min. $40.00 1 hour $56.00
Nonmembers 30 min. $45.00 1 hour $73.00
*Prices are subject to change*
Student Recreation Facility
737 S. Halsted
Chicago, IL 60607
Sport and Fitness Center
828 S. Wolcott
Chicago, IL 60608
For Appointments Call: 312-413-5174
For more information please visit the Campus Rec Center website at www.uic.edu/depts/recreation
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