Tips for Stress Management

Lincoln Public Schools counselors and school social workers shared some stress management techniques for mentors and mentees.

Deep Breathing Exercise

Think of someplace where you feel really relaxed. Imagine that you are in this place and that you are lying down or sitting comfortably. Take a breath in slowly (count 1-2-3) through your nose. Hold it while you count slowly 1-2-3, then breathe out slowly (count 1-2-3) through your mouth. Count slowly 1-2-3 before taking another breath. Do this several times until you begin to feel calm.

You could also place your hand on your belly as you breathe in and out to feel your belly move with each breath.

Grounding Exercise

When you are feeling anxious, look around and find:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Hands and Arms:

Pretend you have a whole lemon in each of your hands. Now squeeze them hard. Try to squeeze all the juice out. Feel the tightness in your hands and arms as you squeeze. Now drop the lemons and your arms. Notice how your muscles feel when they are relaxed. Take another lemon in each hand and squeeze them. Try to squeeze this one harder than you did the first one. That’s right. Real hard. Now drop your lemons and relax. See how much better your hand and arm feel when they are relaxed. Good. Now relax and let the lemon fall from your hand

Arms and Shoulders:

Next, pretend you are a furry, lazy cat. You want to stretch. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Raise them up high over your head. Way back. Feel the pull in your shoulders. Stretch higher. Now just let your arms drop back to your side. Stretch again. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Raise them over your head. Pull them back, way back. Pull hard. Now let them drop quickly. Good. Notice how your shoulders feel more relaxed and feel how good it is to be relaxed. It feels good and warm and lazy. 

Shoulders and Neck:

Now pretend you are a turtle. You’re sitting out on a warm rock next to a nice, peaceful pond. Uh-oh! You sense danger. Pull your head into your house. Try to pull your shoulders up to your ears and push your head down into your shoulders. Hold in tight. It isn’t easy to be a turtle in a shell. The danger is past now. You can come out into the warm sunshine and, once again, you can relax and feel the warm sunshine. Watch out now! More danger. Hurry, pull your head back into your house and hold it tight. You have to be closed in tight to protect yourself. Okay, you can relax now. Bring your head out and let your shoulders relax. Notice how much better it feels to be relaxed than to be all tight. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to be afraid of. You feel good. 

Face and Nose:

Here comes a pesky old fly. He has landed on your nose. Try to get him off without using your hands. That’s right, wrinkle up your nose. Make as many wrinkles in your nose and face as you can. Scrunch your nose and eyes up real hard. Good. You’ve chased him away. Now you can relax your nose and face. Oops, here he comes back again. Shoo him off. Wrinkle your face and nose up hard. Hold it just as tight as you can. Okay, he flew away. You can relax your face. So when you relax your nose, your whole face relaxes too, and that feels good. Let your face go smooth, no wrinkles anywhere. Your face feels nice and smooth and relaxed. 


Here comes a cute baby elephant, but he’s not watching where he’s going. He doesn’t see you lying there in the grass, and he’s about to step on your stomach. Make your stomach very hard. Tighten up your stomach muscles real tight. Hold it. It looks like he is going the other way. You can relax now. Let your stomach go soft. Let it be as relaxed as you can. That feels so much better. Oops, he’s coming this way again. Get ready. Tighten up your stomach. Real hard. If he steps on you when your stomach is hard, it won’t hurt. Make your stomach into a rock. Okay, he’s moving away again. You can relax now. Kind of settle down, get comfortable, and relax. Notice the difference between a tight stomach and a relaxed one. That’s how we want it to feel: nice and loose and relaxed. 

Legs and Feet:

Now pretend you are standing barefoot in a big, fat mud puddle. Squish your toes down deep into the mud. Try to get your feet down to the bottom of the mud puddle. You’ll probably need your legs to help you push. Push down, spread your toes apart, and feel the mud squish up between your toes. Now step out of the mud puddle. Relax your feet. Let your toes go loose and feel how nice that is. It feels good to be relaxed. Back into the mud puddle. Squish your toes down. Let your leg muscles help you push your feet down. Push your feet. Hard. Try to squeeze that mud puddle dry. Okay. Come back out now. Relax your feet, relax your legs, relax your toes. It feels so good to be relaxed.

Positive Affirmations

Choose quotes or phrases that are meaningful to you – write them down and repeat them daily:

Sample phrases:
I am capable.
I can do this!
I will try my best!
I am kind.
My challenges help me grow.
I am good enough.

Sample quotes:
“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”  -Brian Tracy

“Every accomplishment begins with a decision to try.”  -Edward T. Kelly

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising up every time we fall.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  -Nelson Mandela

“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” -Unknown