Simple Supports Are Everything: 4 Great Self-Care Tools Students Can Use for Stress

Greetings!! I’m tickled pink to introduce Jill Blake, a health & wellness educator with 25 years of experience counseling students on dealing with stress and garden variety, day-to-day challenges of living.

She uses mindfulness, guided imagery and a host of other mind-body tools, many with her own unique twist. She’s knowledgeable, generous, brainy, exuberant, creative, and – lucky us! – can write like a dream. (She’s also a poet.)  

Here she describes 4 terrific, easy-peasy but potent, self-care practices that students (and frankly, you and I) can use to gain agency over stress, especially nowadays, in the Time of Covid.  So read on, Dear Reader – Jill does not disappoint.

And if you want to know more about her and her work, you can find that intel here:  :) BR

I’ve spent twenty-five years coaching Oberlin College students (Obies) in managing stress and anxiety.  This past Year of Covid reminds me of the year of 9/11, and again a few years later when Obies from New York City were fourth-years - anxious to launch into the real world.  I think quite a bit about this parallel and how important it is that students - like them - are offered tools to take care of themselves, while also being reminded of their real-world community and worth within it.

I could guess which tools fit this bill but decided to ask the experts – my Obies from my Mindfulness & Healing Arts courses. I emailed them one question, “Which tools are you returning to in this COVID moment - to help you adapt and have faith in the future?  Here is what they said. Note: I include links for any eager learners! 

Simple Supports are Everything

  1. Quietest Sound in the Room
    1. Set a timer for two minutes.
    2. Sit comfortably, breathe with the gravity that pulls your tissues to the earth.
    3. Bones sturdy in a prideful posture.
    4. Tissues settle. Bones sturdy. Breathe.
    5. Now listen for the quietest sound in the room.
    6. For an extra boost, follow this up with an afternoon walk when the sun is brightest.
  1. Pro-Social Hormones Can’t be Beat
    1. Make a list of three tasks you want to accomplish today.
    2. Add one you already did and cross it off - dopamine boost!
    3. Send a picture of your task list to three friends. Ask if they can celebrate with you as you cross each item off.
    4. Each time you cross off a task, send them an updated picture. Each friend can reply with a GIF, song, selfie, or voice message - oxytocin boost!
    5. More often than not, this becomes a habit among friends. Even if it doesn’t, remembering this support will fill your body with serotonin, the final pro-social biochemical you need to keep faith alive!
  1. Exercise Your Humanity
    1. Take time each week to engage in one of these layers of service.
    2. If you aren’t sure where to begin, ask a professor if they know a community that could use support.
    3. Contact the city to see if there is a fund to help people who cannot pay their utilities and donate something you can afford.
    4. Call a local community service agency to ask how you can help with their food distribution program.
    5. Remember, you don’t have to be an ongoing volunteer to be of service.
  1. Make Stress Your Friend with a Cognitive Reframe
    1. Stress makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken, and your forehead sweat. But, hey, so does falling in love. And, according to psychologist Kelly McGonigal, while stress has been made into a public health enemy, recent studies suggest that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. [Ed. Note: Research also shows that stress becomes bad for you when it’s constant, unrelenting and unmitigated over time.] In McGonigal’s TED talk, she urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an underappreciated mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

So, an APB to all students you know and love: Take my students' advice. Make time to engage in these simple mind-shifting tools, and sooner rather than later. It will bring you a new experience of yourself, your community, and even your to-do list. These experiences will lead your eye to new possibilities that bring you agency - something we all lost a bit this past year. It is still here, trust me - you simply need a few new places to look.

Learn more about Jill Blake by visiting