HLC Pilot Program Tips

Week Three: Take 10

Week Three Challenge: Take 10 minutes to relax each day

During the course of the week, you will be challenged to set aside at least 10 minutes out of the day and find a healthy way to relax.

Remember that this week’s challenge is in addition to maintaining your healthy habit of eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and exercising 30 minutes a day. Here are some resources to help you start relaxing.

Why it's important?

The American Psychological Association recently released the results of its 2010 Stress in America survey. Among the findings: Nearly 75% of Americans who responded to an online survey said that their stress levels are so high that they feel unhealthy.
Behavioral, emotional, and physical responses to stress are usually interrelated. The more intense the physical response, the stronger the emotional response, and vice-versa. Effective behavioral responses can break this cycle; ineffective ones only worsen it and lead to chronic illness like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression.

The Mayo Clinic provides many resources on stress management and relaxation techniques that are worth looking into.

Coping with Stress: Resources at Columbia

Columbia’s Employee Assistance Program offers free, confidential counseling and consultation to help individuals manage their stress. 

Easy ways to help you relax and manage stress

We are all able to do simple relaxation activities, especially if public transportation is part of our morning and evening routine.  Listen to music, do a crossword puzzle, read a book, or play a game!  Here are some additional activities that can guide you… 


Countless researchers in fancy white lab coats have shown how meditation relaxes both your mind and body. Short little deep breathing exercises that take you temporarily out of your work angst. Here’s a technique to try now.

Do you need to take a quick 10-minute break to relax?  The Mayo Clinic offers a short video to help you while you sit at your desk!  Just make sure that your internet browser is flash-enabled.

The Chopra Center also offers a free Winter 21-Day Meditation Challenge in which you 21 daily guided meditations will be e-mailed to you. 

Drink Tea

Both black and green teas contain an amino acid called L-theanine, which produces a sense of calmness and relaxation by releasing neurotransmitters (like serotonin and endorphins) in the brain.


Regular physical activity strengthens your muscles and releases endorphins, which reduce pain and induce euphoria, therefore improving your mood and mental concentration. So, not only is exercise good for the body, but it's good for the mind, too. Try to do a 10-minute stretch or take a yoga class in your community, or at the Dodge Fitness Center.


Sitting behind a computer all day can take a toll on your body. Stretching exercises can help relieve pain, get rid of stiff joints and even give you a break from the monotony of your work day. Best of all, they only take seconds or minutes to perform! If you need examples, you can look at these slides from Mayo Clinic, and animated videos from the Washington Post. 

Take a Bath

It's a proven fact that warm water relaxes your body muscles and rids your body of stiffness and sore joints. Immersing yourself in hot water before bedtime causes your body temperature to rise, which enhances your ability to fall asleep faster. Also, by adding Epsom Salts to your bath (which are made of the mineral magnesium sulfate - a sedative for the nervous system), your skin will absorb the magnesium sulfate which sedates the nervous system and relaxes muscles. Soft music and candlelight is always a nice touch, too.


Journaling, as a stress management and self-exploration tool, is not the same as simply recording the happenings in one’s life, like keeping a log. To be most helpful, one must write in detail about feelings and cognitions related to stressful events, as one would discuss topics in therapy. Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; often, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper.


It’s not only ‘the best medicine’; laughter is one of the more fun free stress relievers available! It’s also important to maintain a sense of humor in life; it can be a great way to relieve stress, and can make life more enjoyable at the same time. It’s one of those free stress relievers that can relieve stress in those around you as well.