Tag Archives: stress relief

Oh the Places You’ll Go (With Your Tufts ID Card)

Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020

As a graduate student, being able to save money is important. But at the same time, being able to take some time away from your studies to visit a museum, go to a movie, or grab something to eat is a great way to change up your routine and ensure that you’re not burning yourself out from working nonstop. Finding a balance between saving and going out to do something fun isn’t always easy, but thanks your handy dandy Tufts student ID card you have access to a number of things that will allow you to decompress, explore, and learn something new without spending too much, if anything!

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Perhaps one of the most exciting perks of being a Tufts student is free (yes, that’s right, FREE) admission to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)! Located right next to the Tufts Fenway Campus, the museum is easily accessible both via public transportation and the university shuttle. Though visitors typically pay as much as $25 to enter this renowned cultural institution, you have the opportunity to peruse its seemingly endless galleries and corridors as frequently as you like for no charge. Explore vast collections of art from around the world ranging from Roman pottery and Egyptian mummies to Colonial Era American paintings and modern art from around the globe. Home to nearly 500,000 pieces of art, I have never found myself able to see everything there is to see, even after multiple visits. However, even if you were to manage this impressive feat, the museum’s array of temporary exhibits and public programming will hopefully keep drawing you back over and over again!

The Royall House & Slave Quarters 

A mere 10 minutes walking distance from the Tufts Somerville/Medford campus, The Royall House and Slave Quarters preserves the 18th century home of the Royall family, the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts, along with the only remaining slave quarters in the northern United States. Visitors are welcome to visit the site from mid-March to mid-November where they can take a guided tour of both the mansion and slave quarters to learn more about the property’s role in the history of race, class, and slavery in North America. Though the stories preserved and interpreted by the site can be troubling to hear, a visit to the museum provides an impactful means of learning about this country’s past and its significance today. Admission is typically only $10, but Tufts students are able to visit for free.

Theaters

Taking the time to see a cool new movie on the big screen or even attending a play or concert can make for a fun night out. However, the cost of seeing a film in theaters alone can often cost nearly $20. That being said, several movie theaters in the Boston area offer discounted showings and student rates. Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline is a popular independent theater known for showing a wide variety of mainstream and independent movies, as well as being affordable for students. Even the AMC chain theaters in Boston and Somerville offer a fairly substantial discount on tickets (though they can vary from location to location). Although I haven’t seen a formal student discount at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square, it’s $11 ticket prices certainly beat out other theaters in the area and it’s only a short walk away from campus!              

Groceries, Shops, and Restaurants

As a graduate student, finding time to cook and eat can definitely be challenging. Having the luxury of going out to eat isn’t always possible, especially on a tight budget. However, many restaurants, shops, and even grocery stores in Davis Square and elsewhere near the Tufts Somerville/Medford campus offer discounts to Tufts students to make eating out a bit more affordable. Perhaps the most well well known among Tufts students is Yoshi’s Japanese and Korean Cuisine, which offers a 10% discount to students who show their ID. B-Fresh Market, a grocery store in Davis Square, similarly offers a 5% discount on groceries at checkout to students (just make sure you use a regular checkout and not a self-checkout to get this discount). Multiple other businesses also offer similar discounts so make sure you keep your ID card with you and your eyes out for signs promoting these deals! 

So Much More!

Though these are just a few examples of some of the deals you can get with a Tufts student ID, there are plenty of other museums, restaurants, events, and businesses in the Boston area that offer discounts and promotions for students. Make sure you always keep your ID handy to take advantage of these offers, and make your experience as a graduate student just a bit more affordable and fun! 

Finals Season is Coming: 5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress

Written by Amanda Wang, Innovation & Management M.S. 2019

Stress is a word that never leaves a college student’s dictionary. In April, when you find out you have tons of reports, assignments, and exams ahead of you, even the fact that the summer break will (eventually) come  barely helps. I have tried multiple methods from drinking too much coffee to watching a whole season of drama, only to figure out that neither pushing harder nor procrastinating longer would make a real difference to my stressed-out brain. 

Maybe knowing how to relieve stress is one huge part of ”adulting”. Now with almost five years of university life experience, I found five ways that work best for me and perhaps will work for you as well.

  • Write tasks down 

This might be the most straightforward way to reduce stress. Your brain is like a strawberry jam, and it is hard to figure out what you should do. Seems like no matter what task you do first, you will not be able to finish all of them on time. But is this the case? Or just because you do not know how much you have to finish by today, this week, and this month? The quickest approach to stop the panic is to write all your tasks and concerns down. After writing down the tasks quickly, you will find that many things are easier than you expected. Try hand-writing instead of plugging the deadlines into an Excel document (for me, Excel itself already looks stressful), as writing by hand can help the brain process  information and clean it up. Sounds cool, huh? Get down to write and see how amazingly it helps with your stress relief!

  • Chat with your friends

It is understandable if you want to be left alone when you are stressed, as social time can be tiring when you have tons of work to do. However, if you have a weekend or a day off, call a friend to grab coffee or food together! Trust me – once the conversation starts, you will feel much better. In addition, some coffee and food will help to create comfort and relieving environment. The time spent with friends makes us much stronger when facing stress. Many times, we just need a bit encouragement and we will have enough energy to carry on. Friends are the people we can seek encouragement from most directly and effectively. Don’t forget to help your friends when they are stressed, too!

  • Go outside

Try not to stay at home all day when you feel that you need some personal time. Instead, go outside. If the weather is good, do some exercise! Spring is around the corner (finally!) and I can hear the birds chirping in the morning. Outdoor activities can help you to gain energy, but even  going to the gym or shopping malls is better than staying inside your place the whole day. You may go hiking or biking around the  area near Middlesex Fells Reservation. Or simply take a day trip outside campus (see our blog ‘Escaping Campus: The 5 best day trips from Tufts!’). Enjoy the sunshine and nice weather!

  • Clean up your space

A messy living space will add to your stress level. To keep your mind clear, having a tidy space of your own is essential. I was amazed by the power of a clean home  after watching the Netflix series “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”. No need to throw half of your stuff away, just give yourself some organized space to work. Put stuff that is not frequently used back in boxes or drawers, reorganize your closet to get ready for the spring, do some laundry for clean towels and sheets – anything that you can think of to ‘renovate’ your space will significantly help to reduce the stress. 

  • Have some comfort food

Food is always comforting under the proper circumstances.  Try to make your favorite dish at home, no matter if it is eggs & bacon or some hot noodles with seasoning. I sometimes make Shakshuka, pasta, or Chinese noodle soups. Or, you can dine out at your favorite restaurants or explore new restaurants in the area! Remember, the idea is to eat something that will make you happy, but don’t eat food that is unhealthy as it will only add to your stress later on!

Stress Relieving Yoga Practice for Grad Students

Written by Ece Gulsan, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student

Every year I start the semester with full motivation and control over my tasks. I have the perfect agenda in hand, dozens of pens with different colors for each activity, a bunch of folders which I categorize for each assignment, and post-its all over my desk. However, as we approach  the middle of the semester, things get overwhelming, I stress out, and lose my interest in my to-do list.

I’ve been studying for almost 20 years, so I’m pretty familiar with this pattern. We need to be productive to succeed, but our brains need a break, and those breaks should be planned strategically.

Practicing yoga is a perfect way to reset your mind and get back on track when you’re feeling stressed or unmotivated. The main idea of a yoga practice is to challenge the body with asanas (poses) that force us to concentrate on what is going on with our body, and keep our minds from wandering. At the end of the sequence, we feel more relaxed, balanced, and motivated for the rest of the day.

Here is a 30-minute all-levels yoga sequence which I specifically designed for improving concentration and decreasing the effects of stress on our bodies. Feel free to repeat between study sessions, before starting the day, or whenever you feel like you can use a break. You can make it more challenging by staying longer in the poses or repeating the sequence more than one time. Yoga mats can be purchased online or at large stores, and you can also use them at the Tufts gym.

Start with Child’s Pose – Balasana. On your hands and knees, focus on your breath, and turn your awareness inward. Your chest will rest on top of your thighs. Support your torso with your knees, and your forehead on your mat, or on a pillow. That helps you feel grounded. Stay in the pose until your inhaling and exhaling are synchronized, and roll back up on your knees. Avoid the pose if you have knee injuries. This pose calms the brain and because of the feeling of grounding, acts as a therapeutic posture to relieve stress.

Continue with a standing forward fold, UttanasanaStand up and bend your knees generously until your upper body lies on your thighs. Let your arms and head hang and press the heels firmly into the floor. Hands can be either on the floor or catch the opposite elbow. Forward falls increase the blood flow through brain, release the tension on neck and shoulders, and the feeling of “letting it go” has a restorative effect on body.

Move into a low lunge, AnjaneyasanaStep your right foot to the back of your mat and lower your knee on the floor. Bend your left knee and align it over the heel. Draw your tailbone down, lift your chest up to the ceiling, take your head back to look up, and raise your hands. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. As you inhale reach up, and as you exhale lower your hips to stretch hip flexors. Stay for a few long breath cycles and repeat with the other foot in front. The psoas muscle, the deepest muscle in our core, is one of the most vital muscles in our body. It is located in the lower lumbar area of the spine, extends through pelvis and connects upper and lower body with each other. Anjaneyasana specifically targets hip flexors and psoas, stretches them and helps you relieve stress, as well as opens your chest to boost confidence and enhance your mood.

Now approach your wide-legged standing forward bend, Prasarita PadottanasanaGo back to standing, face towards the long edge of your mat and step one leg to the other side of the mat with your legs wide apart. Make sure your outer feet are parallel to the short edge of your mat (a slight internal rotation of feet is recommended). Inhale and lengthen your spine, lift your chest, and bend forward on your exhale. Engage thigh muscles and make sure your weight is on the balls of your feet. You can interlace your fingers behind you and if it does not feel intense enough, bring your hands over your head. This pose relieves tension on your shoulders and targets the piriformis muscle, a tiny muscle located in the deep buttock, near the sciatica nerve. Contracted piriformis can create tension on shoulders and  is very difficult to target.

Find your tree pose, Vrksasana. Find your way back to standing. Face towards to the short edge of your mat. Lift your left leg and hug your left knee. Bring the sole of your left foot to either the inside of your right thigh or calf, making sure it does not rest on your kneecap. Stay here for a few breaths. Keeping the eyes will closed makes thing even more challenging. If you are comfortable with your balance, send your left leg back and bring it parallel to the floor by pushing your heels to the back of the room. Hinge forward, level your hips, stretch your arms palms facing each other in warrior III, VirabhadraStay here for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat with the other leg. Balance poses makes you focus on one point and prevents your mind from wondering.

Find a comfortable seated position for eagle arms pose, Garudasana. Bend your elbows and bring forearms together in front of your chest. If possible, cross your left arm underneath the right. Draw your shoulder blades away from each other and broaden your chest. Level your elbows with your eyes and keep your hands away from your face. Bend forward if you can. Repeat with the other arm on top. This pose is a great way to release tension on shoulders and relax the neck.

Before finishing your practice, take a moment at supported fish pose, Matsyasana. Use two yoga blocks or a pillow to support your shoulder blades and back of your head as you lie down. Slowly lower back on your props and relax your face, throat, and jaw. Matsyasanais a very effective chest opener to boost confidence. If it is supported, feeling of grounding has a therapeutic effect on body.

Seal your practice by laying on your mat and embracing the effects of your poses. Observe where your mind goes and try to bring your awareness inwards. Focus on your breath, and appreciate the fact that you were able to practice today.