Mental Health Tips


How to Deal with Negative Thinking

Negative thinking is one of the most frequently mentioned issues among those who come to us for help. Why do we fall into negative thinking?

Psychology is a field of study and research from a variety of angles, including cognition, behavior, emotion, and thought. I'd like to focus on to how the brain works.

Among many theories, there is a view that the human brain is composed of three parts: a fairly primitive reptilian brain, such as the brainstem which plays a life-supporting role such as organ function and breathing, a mammalian brain that handles emotions and feelings in the cerebrum which is responsible for connection and communication, and a primate brain in the neocortex which handles thinking. Each of these three parts has been formed during the process of evolution, and they work individually or in conjunction to determine our behavior and emotions.

Based on this theory, it is possible to view the anticipation of danger that may occur in the future, and the antennae for uncertainties, as functions that have long been necessary for humans to protect their own lives. In other words, the reptilian brain is strongly involved. For example, if we hear a suspicious noise, we need to reflexively turn our attention to it and follow it with our eyes. We need to avoid the spot we have once encountered a bear in the forest. For humans, signals such as anxiety and fear were paramount for survival.

However, our current life rarely requires us to perceive physical danger to that extent. And yet, because the human brain has such an ancient function for survival, it is possible that even in today's peaceful and safe life, anxiety and fear signals are triggered by minor changes in the environment - feeling anxious or fearful over trivial events, repeatedly recalling hurtful experiences you once had, feeling overwhelmed by anger as a defensive reaction to someone who hurts you.

Although there are differences depending on the environment and individuality, it may be said that human beings are essentially creatures that are prone to negative thinking due to signals to protect themselves. Isn’t it a little relief to think that negative thinking itself is not “MY” fault? Then, how should we deal with negative thinking?

This coping method has been studied in psychology and psychotherapies, but here I would like to introduce two methods.

The first is to savor positive daily experiences and feel them on a physical level, and the second is to speak positive words to yourself on a regular basis. The image of this is to nourish the mind in the same way that we take in protein, calcium...various nutrients from food on a daily basis, as a conscious maintenance of the mind,

Positive experiences can be anything - delicious, happy, fun, interesting, comforting, pleasant, refreshing, relieving, calming, or healing experience. The important point is to feel the physical senses, including the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, and others, during the experience. This allows us to send signals of reassurance to ourselves that go beyond words and logic.

We also tend to be critical of ourselves. This is especially true if you are highly achievement oriented or a hard worker. As a preventive measure, it is a good idea to deliver pleasant, kind words to yourself along with a sense of comfort. It can be any kind of words such as "You did your best," "It's okay," "It's okay just the way it is," "You'll be fine," or "It's okay to be yourself just as you are.

The second is awareness.  When we are covered in negative thoughts, the world and ourselves appear as if they are actually negative in reality, and our image of future is also covered in negativity, then it will lead to another negative thought and amplify. Therefore, the first thing we can do is to become aware of this mechanism when this happens. This alone can prevent, stop, or ease the amplification. The image is like switching from the street view of a map to a normal map perspective, in other words, looking at it from above. 

Some of you may have been taking these methods naturally, while others may find it difficult, unfamiliar, or resistant.

In the Student Support Room, we carefully listen to what you are having trouble with and what you are struggling with, and we can work together on how to deal with it or discuss what would be helpful for you. Please feel free to visit us if you feel stuck.


Relaxation Techniques

Here is the list of relaxation techniques introduced on “Mental Health Tips” pages.
20221207-0- Click the URL for audio clips. You can simply follow the recorded audio instructions.

1.10-second Breathing Technique
 It can be done only in 10 minutes!

2.Mindful Breathing
 To get away from your worries, make your mind clear, and focus on what you want to do.

3.Releasing Facial Tension
 Masseter muscle massage and temple massage to release facial tension.

4.Progressive muscle relaxation
 Make your muscle relax to relax your mind! It helps when you have a difficulty falling asleep.

 Chinese exercise that anyone can easily do!

6.Autogenic Training Method
 Work on autonomic nervous system. When you are nervous, anxious, or having difficulty falling asleep.


For the better stress management ~Tips from the Student Support Room~

 Did you have a nice break during the Golden Week? How are you spending your days after the holidays?
 Some of you may be feeling a little relaxed and ready for a fresh start in your studies, while others may be feeling a little unmotivated, classes are going on and you may be wondering what to do... In such situation, it is natural to feel some stress in your daily life. Especially with the prolonged Corona disaster, wars in other countries and natural disasters in Japan such as earthquakes, you probably feel stressed without realizing it, as the state of emergency continues.

 How stressed are you and what is your stress level? The Student Support Room has the following simple stress check on our website.
We posted the stress coping strategies that students use,
and also have posted audio clips of a 10-second breathing technique and others on Mental Health Tips.
You can also refer to the Column for your daily life.
We hope these articles and the audio clips help you strengthen your capacity for stress management.

Here are events the SSR provides,
How To make an appointment with a counselor,
Information on medical care and counseling services on weekends and holidays.

If you feel that something is out of the ordinary or that it is difficult to solve the problem by yourself, talk to someone close to you or someone you trust, or a counselor at the Student Support Room. You may find a way out by talking to others. We (Student Support Room) support you so that you can find your own way.

Student Support Room 



I would like to introduce a Chinese health exercise, Suwaishou
Suwaishou is an easy exercise that anyone can easily do in a short time when you are tired.

First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees lightly bent.
Relax your shoulders and arms, and let them dangle.
Then, swing your arms around your waist.

* Swing arms left and right.
With the hips as the axis, relax the shoulders and arms, and naturally throw them out to the left and right as you twist.
Try it like a rattle drum, with the back as the axis.
The arms will beat and stimulate the abdomen and hips.


* Swing your arms back and forth.
Swing your arms back and forth together up to the level of your navel.
Do not bend your knees.


As you repeat this action, you become mindless and naturally enter a meditative state.
It is as if mindfulness arises spontaneously.

It is also said to relax the muscles around the spine and balance the autonomic nervous system.
This is especially recommended before and after online classes.
There are videos and other resources available, so please search and refer to them yourself.

Stand near a chair, relax, and dangle your arms.
Please give it a try.

Counsellor @SSR


What are the Stress Coping Strategies that other students use?

 Many students have shared their stress coping strategies. 
 Some of them may be the ones you use often, others may be quite new. Take a moment to go through the strategies that other students shared, and you may want to add some of them to your repertoire!
 Thank you for those who quickly responded. Those who have more strategies to share, we appreciate your insights - please click the link below.
 For security reasons, this form is only accessible within the Ritsumeikan Office system, so you may be asked to sign in.

<Something I like / Activation>
♢ Listening to music / Listening to a list of favorite music at a loud volume 
♢ Watching movies / Getting absorbed into the world of the movie
♢ Reading:
  ➤ Read articles on international soccer
  ➤ Read articles on recent political matters
  ➤ Read a book
  ➤ Read a book in which characters are the same generation as me
♢ Watching videos:
  ➤ Watch DAZN highlights
  ➤ Watch Soccer King
  ➤ Watch quiz shows
  ➤ Watch “Bunkajin Hosokyoku”
  ➤ Listen to a favorite radio show
♢ Going out:
  ➤ Go for a walk 
  ➤ Go to a cat café
  ➤ Go to a library
♢ Exercising:
  ➤ Stretch
  ➤ Go for a run
  ➤ Walking
  ➤ Doing a funny exercise
  ➤ Do a handstand
♢ Voicing out
  ➤ Sing in the bath
  ➤ Make a strange sound
  ➤ Go to Karaoke by myself and sing loudly
♢ Thinking about something fun
  ➤ Think world’s eleven best soccer players
  ➤ Think about the next day’s menu at the cafeteria
♢ Eating and Drinking
  ➤ Eat banana mango yogurt
  ➤ Have a favorite drink – hot chocolate / tea
♢ Doing something around the house
  ➤ Make dishes I like
  ➤ Clean the room

  ➤ Sleep until feeling better
  ➤ Do the minimum and go to sleep as soon as possible
  ➤ Detoxifying by crying
  ➤ Take a bath
  ➤ Spend time alone

<Consultation / Social Support>
  ➤ Talk to an older person, especially someone who can talk constructively
  ➤ Have a conversation with myself as if talking to another “me.” Ask them what they think or how they feel by actually verbalizing them. Then, I become aware of what I am really feeling.
  ➤ Chatting with my friends on video
  ➤ Spend time with people you trust

<Solving problems>
  ➤ Search internet on “when mentally tired (burned out?)” to look for someone in the same situation
  ➤ Look at the causes of stress objectively, and work on them, or analyze them

<Getting rid of the stressors>
  ➤ Stay away from SNS or internet
  ➤ Temporarily leave the stressful situation and do something I like

<Restructuring cognition>
  ➤ Consider that getting stressed is the proof of being sincere and hardworking.
  ➤ Do not expect that I can finish all assignments in one sitting. It is progress when you complete even one out of ten things to do. If you finish none, do it tomorrow. You will have to do it at the last minute anyway, so even a little step today is OK. Do not aim for being perfect. It is just fine to do the minimum. Take it easy and try to do the minimum, and then it will gradually accumulate.

Counsellor @SSR


498835Tips For Better Stress Management

 With many restrictions during the COVID pandemic, university life is more stressful than ever. It is, therefore, very important to understand your stress and acquire coping strategies.
 Follow the steps below – 1. Become aware of your stress, 2. Your current coping strategies, 3. Your stress level and recommended stress strategies.

1.Become aware of your stress
 Stress reactions are manifested in body, mind and behavior. Check your stress level with the assessment in the box below.

Stress Check
How often have you experienced the conditions below in the past month?
1 Extremely tired 1 2 3 4  
2 Exhausted 1 2 3 4 Ⅰ:
3 Weary or listless 1 2 3 4  
4 Feel tense 1 2 3 4  
5 Worried or insecure 1 2 3 4 Ⅱ:
6 Feel restless 1 2 3 4  
7 Feel depressed 1 2 3 4  
8 Doing anything is a hassle 1 2 3 4 Ⅲ:
9 Unable to concentrate 1 2 3 4  
*Excerpt from “The Brief Job Stress Questionnaire English version” recommended by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Tally the numbers:
◇Ⅰ ・・・Level of “Fatigue” – if your total is 12, seek care!
◇Ⅱ ・・・Level of “Anxiety” – if your total is 11 or over, seek care!
◇Ⅲ ・・・Level of “Depression” – if your total is 10 or over, seek care!

2.Stress Coping Strategies
 How are you coping with stress? The more coping strategies that you have, the more resistant you are to stress.
 Let’s check the strategies that you are using.

Stress Coping Checklist
What do you do when you are stressed, e.g. when things don’t go well, you are feeling down, or pressured?

1 Talk to your friend or someone close 1 2 3 4 A:
2 Consult someone 1 2 3 4
3 Think of other solutions 1 2 3 4 B:
4 Try another way to solve 1 2 3 4
5 Focus on what you have done 1 2 3 4 C:
6 Try to think that you’ve learned from your mistakes. 1 2 3 4
7 Relax (Take a bath, lie down) 1 2 3 4 D:
8 Do something you like 1 2 3 4
9 Try to act positive, not showing your real feelings 1 2 3 4 E:
10 Try to forget 1 2 3 4
11 Binge eating/drinking 1 2 3 4 F:
12 Break things / act violently 1 2 3 4
Tally the numbers:
A:  Add 1 & 2         

B:  Add 3 & 4        

C:  Add 5 & 6         

D:  Add 7 & 8         

E:  Add 9 & 10         

F: Add 11 & 12          

The largest number reflects the most common strategies that you use:
A:Social support / ConsultingThe more strategies of A-D that you have, the better you handle your stress. There are some ways to cope with your stress described below.
B: Problem solving
C: Reevaluating cognition
D: Relaxation / Activation
E: Oppression / Denial Too much of it may cause physical/mental distress
F: Destructive stress relief Find strategies that you don’t regret or harm anyone/anything.
The followings are some of the ways to cope with your stress. Try any that fit your circumstance or your style!
● Getting rid of the stressor – There are situations where this is not possible.
● Behavioral activation: releasing stress by engaging in healthy activities
 Ex: chat with friends, sing, exercise
● Relaxation: Calm your nervous system20210526-1
 Ex: sleep, take a bath, do a breathing technique, drink herb tea

3.Your stress levels and coping strategies
What follows are suggested coping strategies organized by current stress reactions from stress check.

◇If your highest score is ”Fatigue,” relaxation and resting (D) are recommended. You can find relaxation techniques on the “Mental Health Tips” on the Student Support Room -
 Also, you can join weekly online “Hokkori Relaxation Time” by the Student Support Room to practice the relaxation techniques.

◇If your highest score is ”Anxiety” or “Depression,” social support/consulting(A), problem-solving(B), reevaluating cognition(C) are recommended. It is not easy to work through this on your own, especially, problem-solving and reevaluating your cognition. There are various types of support available for students. Please refer to pages 35-41 for the student support network on campus:

4.Tell us about your coping strategies!
Share your coping strategies with us! Fill the form below and send it- the answers will be posted anonymously on the Student Support Room Website. For security reasons, this form is only accessible within the Ritsumeikan Office system, so please sign in when you access the form.

* For more information on stress and stress reactions, please refer to “How to cope with stress” on the Student Support Room website -

* If you want to understand your own stress better, please click the link below for self-analysis.

Counsellor @SSR


Get to know your own stress

Becoming aware of your stress is the first step to cope with it.

1.What are your stressors (cause of stress)?
eg.) study, relationships, work, future, pressure from parents

2.What are your stress reactions?
eg.) stomachache, feeling depressed, low motivation, crying, irritated, can’t enjoy anything

3.What are your stress coping strategies?
eg.) Chat with friends, take a bath, listen to music, read a book, exercise, cook

4.Tell us about your coping strategies!
Share your coping strategies with us! Fill the Form below and send it- the answers will be posted anonymously on the Student Support Room Website.

Counsellor @SSR


<Autogenic Training Method>

Today, I'd like to introduce one of the best-known relaxation methods, the Autogenic Training Method.

It is used in hospitals to alleviate various physical symptoms, and was used by athletes in the Olympics a few years ago to reduce nervousness. It is also used in schools and companies to help students stay calm in class or employers to improve work efficiency.

It is a type of self-hypnosis, and once you acquire it, you can relax your whole body in just a few minutes while studying, working, or on the train, and relieve your physical and mental fatigue.
You can do it while sitting or lying, so if you do it before going to bed at night or when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep , you can fall asleep comfortably.

There are six formulas in total, and you repeat the words in order while paying attention to your body, but up to the second formula is effective enough. Repeated use of the same word will increase the suggestion effect.

☞ Formula 1 (heaviness of limbs): My limbs are heavy.
☞ Formula 2 (warmth of limbs): My limbs are warm.
☞ Formula 3 (heart adjustment): My heart is beating quietly.
☞ Formula 4 (breathing adjustment): Breathing easily.
☞ Formula 5 (abdominal warmth): Stomach is warm.
☞ Formula 6 (forehead coolness): The forehead is pleasantly cool.

Now let's get started.
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place, take a natural posture that allows you to relax. Remove your belt, watch, or anything else that constricts your body. Rest your hands in your lap. Recline in a chair or sofa, or lie on your back with your legs and arms slightly open.

2.In this relaxed position, take a few deep breaths to calm your mind. Exhale slowly and let your whole body relax. When you start to feel calm, close your eyes lightly and chant "I  am calm" several times in your mind. When you feel sufficiently calm, start the formula. 

3.Formula 1: "My right arm is heavy..." > > "My left arm is heavy...”
        "My right leg is heavy..." > >"My left leg is heavy...”
 (* When the excess tension in the shoulders, arms, and other parts of the body is released, you will naturally feel the weight of the arms)
Formula 2: "My right arm is warm..." > > "My left arm is warm...”
       "My right leg is warm..." > >"My left leg is warm...”
(*The more relaxed you are, the the warmer your arms and feet will become. When you  relax enough, you will naturally feel warmth in your hands and feet.)

4.Finally, do an "elimination movement" to bring strength back into your body and clear your mind. Squeeze your hands tightly, then open them. Alternatively, clasp your hands together and stretch, or rotate your neck and shoulders. 
(*When you go to bed, do not do the elimination movements, just sleep.)

How did you feel? Slowly turn your attention to your body and enjoy the sensation.

Counsellor @SSR


Relax your body, relax your mind -Progressive muscle relaxation-

 Do you sometimes exercise?
When you are sitting in the same posture for a long time due to the ongoing online classes, your body gets stiff and tired. Anxiety and nervousness also make your muscles tight and cause stiff neck which may lead to headache and nausea.
 I would like to introduce an exercise that makes your muscles relax which, as a result, makes your mind relax.

 You will tense each muscle group for about 10 seconds, then slowly release the tension. Inhale as you tense it vigorously without straining, and exhale, taking about 15 seconds, as you release the tension and feel the muscle relax. It is easier to release the tension after you intentionally tense it. Therefore, tighten your muscles with all your strength without straining, then relax them, feeling the tension being released.

 Let’s begin. Sit on a chair without your back touching the back of the chair. Choose a quiet place.
Extend your arms forward and clench your fists with your thumbs folded inside.
Open your fists slowly, put your palms on your laps.

Extend your arms and make fists again. Bend your elbows to bring the fists to your shoulders. Tighten the space between the arms and sides of your body.
Extend the arms forward and put your palms down on your laps. Feel the weight of your arms hanging.

Bend your elbows again and open the elbows out to the sides. Tense your upper back by pulling your shoulders back trying to make your shoulder blades touch.
Extend your arms and put your palms down on your laps. Feel the soft state of your back muscle.

Lift your shoulders up as if trying to touch your ears.
Lower your shoulders as low as they can go.

Turn your head to the right as far as you can, twisting the muscles in your neck.
Slowly turn your head back. Repeat to the left side.

Clench your teeth and shut your eyes tight. Tighten all the muscles towards the centre of your face.
Slowly relax your facial muscles until your mouth is slightly open.

Put your hands on your belly and suck your stomach in, as if your belly button could touch your back.
Slowly release it. Feel the softness of your belly.

8.Legs & Feet
Extend your legs, and as you inhale, stretch your toes straight and tighten the back side of your legs.
Slowly put your feet down and relax.
Extend your legs again, and pull your toes towards you and tighten the front side of your legs. Put your feet down and relax.

9.Whole Body
Tense your whole body at once – arms, shoulders, face, abdomen, legs and feet. Slowly relax them.

 That’s it, you’re finished. Your body may be a little warmer and relaxed. If you can rest, take a rest. If you are going to engage in an activity, to wake your body up, close and open your hands a few times.
 Below you can find an audio clip to help you exercise. When your life gets too busy and you feel tired, find time to relax. 

Counsellor @ SSR


How to release the facial tension

  1. Masseter muscle massage

    Masseter muscle is the muscle we use when chewing. It tenses when you clench your teeth, which you may do a lot when stressed. To release the tension:

    1. Make a fist and put the flat part of your fist between the first and second finger joints on the masseter muscle.

    2. Apply pressure and gently massage in circles to release tension.



      You may feel pain when it is tight. Gently release tension without straining.


  2. Temple massage

    Temporal muscle can be tensed when you use eyes looking at your PC or phone for a long time.

    1. Make a fist and put the flat part of your fist between the first and second finger joints on your temple.

    2. Apply pressure and gently massage in circles to release tension.

    3. Find a spot that feels good, moving your hands.



      Try massaging the skull a little higher than the temple. You may feel your head cleared.


      We do this exercise during the “Relaxation Time” the Student Support Room offers.

      It is an easy exercise and also recommended in the cold season, as it makes your face warm.




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