Mental Health Tips

Post list for「2020」


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.



Mindful Breathing

 We introduced “Mindfulness” on “Mental Health Tips” section of our website on Nov. 4th.
 To make it easier to practice mindfulness, the SSR made an audio clip of mindful breathing.

 Follow the audio guide to practice this mindfulness skill. 

 By practicing mindfulness skills, we can develop the ability not to be trapped in anxiety or anger. We spend a lot of time regretting the past or being anxious thinking about the future, not paying enough attention to the present moment. 
 Mindful breathing is an easy way to pay attention to what you are doing at the present moment – breathing – anywhere, at any time. It will clear your mind and improve your concentration and attention.
 In the West, companies offer mindfulness workshops during a lunch break to enhance wellbeing.

Keys are:
1.Pay attention to natural breathing
  You don’t need to put effort into breathing. Just breathe as you
  usually do. Observe the rise and fall of your chest and belly.
  Pay attention to the breath coming in and out as if you were
2.When the mind wanders…
  The mind wanders. That’s what it does. Whatever thoughts arise,
  do not deny or push them away. Just gently acknowledge their
  presence and bring your attention back to the breath. By practicing
  bringing attention back, you will be able to focus on what you are
  doing without being occupied with harmful thoughts or feelings.


Counsellor @ SSR


Take care of your lifestyle rhythm (sleep, eating, and exercise)

With courses being held online, I think there are quite a few people whose daily routine may be falling a bit out of rhythm. It’s important to take care of your daily routine to ensure you are getting a good nights’ sleep, having three square meals a day, and engaging in a reasonable amount of exercise. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, creating and maintaining a rhythm in your lifestyle is imperative.

So how has your lifestyle been lately?

Sleep: How many hours long is your ideal nights’ sleep?
Are you awaking feeling refreshed and rejuvenated?
Even when you are busy with schoolwork, making sure that you are getting even just a few hours of deep sleep is critical.

Eating: Eat three square meals a day.
Aim to have balanced meals whenever eating.
(You can use the nutrition info on your receipt from meals at the co-op cafeteria for reference)
Let the seasons energize you by having foods which are fresh and in season

Exercise: Twenty to thirty minutes of light exercise per day, with one to two hours of aerobic exercise on weekends is ideal. Try out some of the exercises, which can be done indoors, being introduced via video and live stream by the Sports and Health Commons.

<↓Information on the Sports and Health Commons can be found below>

If for two weeks or more you find yourself unable to get a good nights’ sleep, have no appetite or have no will to get anything done, please consult with either the Health Center or the Student Support Room as soon as you can.

Support Room appointments may be booked via the online application form found in the information section on our homepage at the link below.
Counseling Request Form

Take care of the health of both your body and mind, take care of your relationships with others, and let’s get through the era of Covid together. The Support Room is here to support your student life.



“Mindfulness” is the act of relaxing, focusing on the now, and naturally becoming aware of your actions and thoughts in the current moment.

If you find yourself stressed and pressed for time between homework assignments, reports, a part-time job and so on, you may benefit from giving your mind this sort of opportunity to calm down.

As part of our “Hokkori Relaxation Time” series, the Support Room is currently offering instruction on breathing techniques. Try the breathing technique anywhere from 5 to 10 times, and if you have some free time after, we suggest you follow it up by trying the mindfulness technique.
(For an overview of the breathing technique, see the Mental Health Tips section of the homepage at Have a listen to the audio instructions and follow along.)

The method for the mindfulness technique is as follows.
1. Sit down and extend your spine to straighten your back
2. Either lower your line of sight or close your eyes
3. Focus your attention on your breathing
4. If you begin to lose focus, reconcentrate all your attention onto your breathing
5. Observe, as-they-are, the various thoughts and ideas which pop into your head
*Try this for 10 minutes at first and work up to 40-50 minutes as you get used to it.

We recommend you give this a try when you wake up in the morning and for some reason feel uneasy, when you find yourself making careless mistakes from being overly-busy and rushed during the day, before bed, and so on.

Use this technique as an opportunity to take a look at yourself, as-you-are, to be yourself and to go about your day to day life.

As part of our “Hokkori Relaxation Time” series we are sharing relaxation techniques including the 10 second breathing technique, muscle relaxation techniques, and exercises to loosen facial muscles and so on. 
For details, see the Student Support “Events” page. 

Give it a try!


10-second breathing technique

  This is an easy and handy relaxation technique called “10-second breathing technique.” 
 As you may have guessed, it can be done in 10 seconds.

1. Close your eyes and exhale all the air out of your body.
2. Inhale through your nose as you count 1 to 3.
3. Hold at 4.
4. Exhale slowly through your pursed lips from 5 to 10.
The key to this breathing is:
1. To focus on your exhaling, rather than on inhaling.
2. Exhale slowly and gently as if you were blowing a bubble.
3. Abdominal breathing provides a deeper breathing.

You can practice with the following guided breathing exercise. Click the URL below.





How to cope with your stress

 Student life is more stressful than you might expect. Every one experiences stress to certain degree. Let me explain what stress is, what reactions to stress are, and how to cope with stress.
1. What is stress anyway?
 Stress is like pressure on a soft rubber ball – stressor(cause) is a finger pressing the ball, and stress symptoms(effect) are the dent on the ball.
Stressor: the cause. For example, exams, fights, virus, weather.
Stress reactions: losing sleep, feeling depressed, fast heartbeat
 We all think stress is a bad thing, but there is stress called eustress which has positive effects on us. “I practiced hard because of the game and improved my skill.” In this case, “the game” is eustress. On the contrary, when you say “My stomach aches when I think about the game,” “the game” is a bad stress. Depending on the circumstance and how it is perceived, stress can be either eustress (good stress) or distress (bad stress).
2. Stress Reactions
 When we are constantly under stress, there will be negative effects on our physical and mental health. Stress reactions are manifested in body, mind and behavior.
Body: stiff neck/back, headache, stomachache, fatigue, poor sleep
Mind: anxiety, depression, irritability, inability to concentrate
Behavior: overeating, gambling, alcohol intake, being violent, missing classes
 These symptoms can be signs of stress, which some people never realize until the symptoms are manifested. Be aware of the signs – they are telling you “I am under too much stress! Do something!”

3. How to cope with stress
 So, do you have any coping strategies? The followings are some of the ways to cope with your stress. Try any that fit your circumstance or your style!20200924-③
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 system
Ex: sleep, take a bath, do a breathing technique, drink herb tea

*Easy relaxation techniques coming up next!

Counsellor @ SSR


Normal reaction to an abnormal situation ~ How to maintain our mental health ~

 The spread of COVID-19 has put in danger not only our physical health but also our mental health. You may be experiencing increased anxiety regarding your academic work, relationship-building on campus, job hunting activities, part-time work, and so on.
 For those who live by themselves, you may feel isolated during this period of social distancing. Those who live with their family may be stressed when all the family members stay home all the time.
 It is a very normal human reaction to feel anxious, depressed, isolated, and stressed, in the face of this abnormal situation. Just like when people are victims of natural disaster or crime, we call those responses “normal reactions to abnormal situations.”
 Paying attention to your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Anxiety and the feeling of isolation will disappear over time, however, we can’t wait until they go away, as nobody can predict when the pandemic will end. I think a lot of you will talk to someone close when you feel anxious, or go outside for a change. But it is difficult now when social distancing is needed. Evidence shows that social isolation can increase the symptoms of mental illnesses. The wave of anxiety from the pandemic, plus the additional consequences of social isolation, can be a difficult combination.
 Those who have had mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, substance use or obsessive-compulsive disorder may need professional help. Ritsumeikan Medical Service Center provides information on hospitals and clinics in Kyoto/Osaka/Shiga.

In order to maintain mental wellness:
1. Be aware of your media intake.
You can access news media 24/7, but the more you read about the pandemic, the more likely you will feel anxious and depressed. Seek information only from trusted sources, and try to shut down your PC, phone, and TV when you start to feel anxious.
2. Keep your routine.
In the time of uncertainty, it is a good idea to keep your normal routine. This regularity will bring you comfort.
3. Keep social relationships.
Keeping social relationships will reduce the feeling of isolation during the social distancing period. Talking to your friends and family on the phone or Skype, or texting them will be a good way to feel connected.
If you live with your family or roommate, staying home may create some tension with them. To maintain a healthy relationship with your family or roommate, try to be kind and patient with them. It is a stressful time for everyone. If it is getting too overwhelming for you to be with them, keep a certain distance and maintain your mental health.

 There is a saying “Every cloud has a silver lining,” which means every difficult situation has a positive aspect, even though this may not be immediately apparent. I wish you all the best in keeping your physical and mental wellbeing, and hope you find your silver lining in this chaotic time.


How to Manage Your Mental and Physical Health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Who could have predicted that this situation would continue for a long time? After the Japanese government emergency declaration was issued, the mood of self-restraint became severe rapidly. 

In the midst of coping with a situation like the COVID-19 outbreak, we may feel uncertainty about the future or suffer from isolation.

Looking at the situation around the world, it is also true that we must continue to quarantine in order to prevent the collapse of the medical care system and further spread of infection. However, it is feared that the number of people who suffer from mental health problems may increase due to fear and anxiety about COVID-19.

It should be emphasized that distress and anxiety are normal reactions to a situation as threatening and unpredictable as the coronavirus pandemic.

Stress reactions unique to COVID-19

Anxiety about unknown stress

Currently, COVID-19 is still completely unknown.
Many people are worried if they will become infected without noticing.

Feelings of loneliness and distress due to limited contact with people

Everyone wants to be with someone when times are difficult. However, it is required to maintain social distance from people in the current situation. People may feel depressed and lonely due to this restriction.

The TMI (too much information)
effect can lead to the danger of information overload

There is a tremendous amount of information about COVID-19, and it is important to have accurate and up-to-date public health information about this topic. However, too much information can make you more likely to become upset or anxious. Also, there is a risk that you will find some scientifically unfounded information. You may feel more insecure if you access information recklessly.

Tips for sustaining your well-being during the response to COVID-19

If the above stress continues for a long time, you may lose your mental and physical balance. During the quarantine period, there may be many people who stay up late, can't get up in the morning, and look at their smartphones too much. Such behavior could disturb the autonomic nervous system.
We may experience increased feelings of anxiety, helplessness, impatience, irritability, or frustration. We might also experience a sense of inadequacy. While feeling worried is normal and expected, there are many ways we can increase our resilience during this time. Identifying ways to manage our mental health is also crucial. There are various ways to cope with stress and anxiety, and it is good to have many methods available. So, please try some of the below. Much like acquiring a personal repertoire of coping skills, you can choose a handful of coping strategies of your own.

Eat something warm and delicious. Physical approaches are easy and effective.
If you have a pet at home, spend more time with your pet. If you don't have a pet, you can feel secure hugging something fluffy.
Warm your body. Soak in a bathtub, drink hot water, have moxa treatment. If you warm your body, it will be easier to fall asleep.
Be aware that you can be more irritable and more vulnerable than usual. In this unprecedented situation, it is natural to feel burdened.
Visualize your stress. Write down what is stressful to you right now and how you can get rid of it.
Choose your media sources carefully and purposefully. Information is useful, but too much information can be unhelpful. Choose actionable information to help protect yourself and your loved ones, distance yourself from disturbing or negative expressions, and stick to reliable news sources.
Stay connected to others. You can connect with people online. Contact your friends and family regularly with a comfortable distance for yourself. Research has shown that social connectedness creates a positive feedback loop that fosters social, emotional, and physical well-being.
Be productive and creative. Because of COVID-19, there are many people who have been obliged to change schedules and social plans. How about spending this time on that "thing that you could never have done before"? There are also fun things you can find even in a time of self-restraint, such as reading the "unreads", decluttering your home, organizing clothes, and cooking.

We wish you good health and high spirits!



Student Support General Guide