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Relieving Stress with Massage Therapy

Graduating from high school and beginning a post-secondary education is an important and exciting time in a young person’s life. College can be a lot of fun, but it also is a hectic experience.

Students are under pressure to succeed in their studies and form new relationships. They also face the challenge of living on their own, perhaps for the first time. This involves buying groceries, washing clothes, and performing other tasks that used to be done for them. The stress that can result must be managed to avoid physical and psychological problems. Eating nutritious food and exercising are key to keeping the body working properly and maintaining mental health.

Another way to find relief when pressures mount is to get a massage. This kind of hands-on therapy is an ancient method of relieving muscle tension, reducing pain, and promoting physical rehabilitation. The word “massage” comes from a French term for the “friction of kneading.” Numerous techniques have been developed for muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Massage also is used to relieve symptoms in the vessels of the lymphatic and gastrointestinal systems.

People receiving massages typically lie on a table or sit in a chair, though beds and floor mats are sometimes used. Practitioners employ their hands, elbows, forearms, knees, and feet to apply pressure to targeted parts of the body. They improve their clients’ mobility and help them regain other physical functions.

People of all ages benefit from these treatments. They include those recovering from injuries and patients undergoing post-operative care. Others who have found massage worthwhile are people with cancer, heart disease, psychological afflictions, and disorders of the immune-response and endocrine systems.

Massage is frequently incorporated in conditioning regimens for athletes and others whose activities can result in strained muscles and injuries. Treatments can be useful for people who strain their shoulders and necks while working on computers, and those with physical problems resulting from repetitive motion.

Basic Massage
The most common type of this therapy is Swedish massage. It involves the use of the hands to work on various parts of the body to relax muscles and loosen joints. This can be as simple as rubbing a sore muscle, which a person may be able to self-administer. However, professionals are trained to target the source of discomfort and apply the most effective techniques.

There main kinds of Swedish massage are effleurage, featuring stroking movements on the affected area; petrissage, the grabbing and pulling of muscles; friction, the use of fingers in a circular motion to apply pressure; tapotement, involving chopping and tapping; and vibrasion, in which fingers are firmly pressed on muscles while the client’s body is shaken.

Deep-Tissue Work
While Swedish massage is most effective in relaxing the outer two layers of muscles, a more intensive method called deep-tissue massage is needed to provide relief in muscles that lie deeper in the body. This is often required by those whose pain results from athletics or other heavy physical activity.

Deep-tissue massage involves slowly stroking across the grain of the muscles. Elbows, as well as hands, are sometimes used to apply the necessary pressure. Therapists trained in this type of massage know how to locate individual muscles from which a person’s pain or tightness originates.

The goal is to zero in on “trigger points,” knots that radiate pain to other parts of the body. This neuromuscular technique improves blood flow, while relieving discomfort by decreasing pressure on the nerves.

Acupressure
Acupuncture, the therapeutic application of needles in the skin, has used by healers in China for thousands of years. Acupressure involves the same trigger points, which practitioners identify as the source of patients’ pain or stiffness. Hands, elbows, and tools like balls and rollers are used to apply pressure.

In addition to relieving pain, acupressure can lessen the nausea experienced by post-operative patients. It is widely believed that acupressure and acupuncture re-balance a person’s chi, a term relating to the flow of energy throughout the body.

Reiki
Another hands-on healing technique, reiki, is based on a similar idea. The term is translated as “universal life energy.” In this ancient Japanese ritual, energy is said to pass through the hands of the therapist to the patient.

While generally provided in private practices and clinics, reiki also has been used in hospitals to help surgical patients and those receiving radiation treatments. It is a deeply spiritual, as well as physical, exercise.

Rolfing
A rolfer works on myofascia, connective tissues that surround muscles. In many cases, myofascia are the source of back pain and joint aches. Patients typically develop such maladies as a result of bad posture or repetitive movements.

Rolfing is an intense therapy, which can be painful because of the amount of pressure applied with hands and elbows. People seek out rolfers when other, less extreme, massage techniques have failed to provide relief.

Patients undergoing hellerwork receive rolfing massage, as well as an education in improving their postures to reduce the damage to joints and muscles. The straightening, stretching, and massaging featured in hellerwork sometimes results in patients “growing” as much as an inch in height.

The multiple forms of massage range from gentle stroking to painful pressure. These therapies can be emotional, as well as physical, experiences. Patients have been known to weep upon getting a measure of relief from their pain. This is considered normal, and experts advise not resisting the impulse to cry.

The technique that works best for one person may be different than that needed by another. It is important to find a practitioner who can provide the most effective method of massage for an individual complaint.

Students who get an occasional massage may find that they feel more relaxed, mentally and physically. Many have found that these healing techniques make it easier to deal with the stress of the college experience.

6 Steps to Taking Challenging College Courses

Some classes come easy for people and others don’t. When you find yourself struggling with a class in college, there are several steps you can take to try and improve your understanding of the material, and in turn, your final grade.

Voice Your Concerns
Email is one of the most popular forms of communication, but there is no replacement for speaking with someone in person. Most professors have office hours available. Make an appointment and use that time to discuss exactly what you’re struggling with one-on-one. Show them you’re committed to the class. If you have concerns about assignments or exams, bring up those specific concerns and ask if they have any recommendations for you. They may be able to put you in touch with a tutor or study group.

Ask About Extra Credit
Some college professors believe in extra credit and others don’t. It never hurts to ask. If you’re doing your best, but you really need something to bump your grade up, politely ask your professor if there is anything else you can do to earn an extra grade. Sometimes writing an extra paper or doing an extra project can make a huge difference in your final grade.

Step Up Your Study Time
Dedicate a specific day and time to studying just for the class you are having trouble with. Each study session, review what you did in class that week. Make notes about the concepts you’re still struggling with and discuss them with your professor. Read the material for the following week so you can really focus on the key concepts as your professor covers them.

Study What Is Important
When you’re preparing for an exam, spend the majority of your time studying concepts that were covered very well in class. Spend less time studying those that your professor brushed over. You may need to know them, but you likely need to know less about them if they were only briefly mentioned.

Think Through Your Struggles
Ask yourself why you’re having trouble with this particular class so you can learn from the experience. If the class is too late or early in the day and you’re having trouble focusing, see if it’s offered at a time that’s better for you. If you find the professor to be very hands-off or their teaching style is difficult for you, see if the same course is taught by another professor. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or are regularly missing the class, make a conscious effort to eliminate those problems.

Visit Your Advisor
Express your concerns about the class to your advisor and ask if there are any resources on campus to help you. He or she may be able to recommend a study group or tutor that your professor isn’t aware of. If the class becomes too much and is not a requirement for your major, you may decide to drop it. Always discuss this with your advisor first. You should be aware of all drop dates, deadlines, any fees and any possible repercussions of your choice.

You may be surprised at what you’re able to overcome and accomplish when you put your mind to it. Use the tips above when you’re met with a challenging course. The lessons you learn from your struggles will benefit you as a professional in the future as well.

Work Study Balance - Getting it Right

Even student loans and scholarships are sometimes not enough to cover all your college expenses. For this reason, many college students have full or part-time jobs. This is a reality of modern life, and those who are able to manage working and studying at the same time, find the experience rewarding. If work begins to get in the way, it is best to seek another job or reschedule your school workload.

If you are a new college student who is unemployed, you can start looking for a job when you get your course schedule. There are actually many job opportunities for college students, and some of them can be found right on campus. Many colleges provide their students with employment to help make ends meet.  These jobs include library monitor, campus administration, tour guide, or working in the campus bookstore. Other good part-time job options for university students are:

  • Teaching assistant: Some college seniors and postgraduate students sometimes assist in teaching college freshmen. The job may also include helping out during exams and grading papers. Talk to a professor to find out if there are openings available.
  • IT technician: The campus office or nearby businesses sometimes need people with technical skills to help in maintaining their computer infrastructure. Keep an eye on the notice board and check the classified ads to see if companies are looking for workers with the kind of skills you have.
  • Production assistant: Many local playhouses or theater companies are always looking for people to help in staging their events. The college’s drama group might have positions available as well.
  • Fast food worker or wait staff: Some college students work part time in the restaurant industry. Those lucky enough to get jobs in high-end restaurants can make a lot of money in tips.

Many college students who want to work will have to do a lot of searching before they find a job. Most of them do not need to earn a lot of money. The important thing is that the income helps them to cover additional expenses like rent or food.

Managing Work and School

No matter how small the job is, it will not be easy for any student to do it while giving enough time to their studies. The following tips are helpful in learning to balance both school and work, whether they are working full-time or part-time.

  • Set clear goals: When you have a sense of what you want to achieve this will help to keep you focus. Goals help to motivate you and keep you aware of what needs to be done and when. Do not hesitate to treat yourself as a reward for accomplishing each goal.
  • Develop time management skills: This is important if you expect to do your job and fulfil you school obligations. Create a timetable, and make sure that your job does not clash with your classes. Assign some time for studying for tests and completing assignments.
  • Get enough rest: You will not be able to do well at work or in class if you are not sleeping enough and getting adequate rest. As a working student, you may have to skip some of the partying and other types of entertainment.
  • Ask for advice: Your faculty advisor, professor and even other students can offer a lot of guidance to help you maintain a balance between work and school. Do not hesitate to talk to someone if you are having problems, especially if you cannot meet your deadlines.
  • Talk to your employer: Make sure that your employer knows that you are attending college. Some business owners will do their best to help their workers who are studying by offering employees more flexible working hours. They might even provide time off to study for exams.
  • Join a study group: This is a good way to catch up on those topics you missed because you were late for class or were unable to attend classes.  Study groups also help you better understand topics you may have difficulty understanding.

College students who exercise are better focused and less stressed, so this is especially important if you are working and studying at the same time. So it is also a good idea to join the gym to help keep you stress level down. As a college student who is working, you will need to learn how to say no to family and friends sometimes. Remember that your goal is to complete your studies successfully. You should not let personal tasks and activities get in the way unless an emergency is involved.

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