I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Massage Therapist with 20 years experience teaching and providing relaxation, stress reduction and guided meditation training.

Thank you so much everyone, this was a lot of fun! I appreciate all the questions.

Blog: http://jessicacrossasmr.blogspot.com Free Meditation Journal: https://gum.co/fnek

Social Proof: https://twitter.com/jcrossstitch/status/795985047446753280

Comments: 159 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

Danilo_dk21 karma

What is a way to reduce stress that everyone can incorporate into their daily routine?

And how do you recognize stress and where it comes from?

JessCross16 karma

Big question! I think meditation is the best for daily stress reduction.
Monitoring your body is a good way to recognize stress if you struggle with that. If there is not something obvious causing your stress it is probably a lot of little things throughout the day. This happens to all of us. That is why it is good to have several little relaxation exercises throughout the day to release the pressure that builds. This video might also be helpful for that question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksl86hZUb7Y

Sonotmethen5 karma

Anecdotal, but I have chronic high blood pressure from a pre-existing medical condition. I've been taking medications of various sorts to try and alleviate the problem with varying degrees of success, but when I turned 21, I was recommended by my doctor to try meditation and was told about mindfulness techniques.

It had the most dramatic reduction in my blood pressure after not even a month of regular (daily) meditation. I started out with 15 minutes just sitting down, eyes closed trying to clear my mind. Eventually I could make it to 30 minutes, but the results were just amazing. I don't understand it, but it works.

JessCross2 karma

So nice to hear. We are slowly learning why it work, but it definitely does.

copaceticsativa17 karma

Any tricks to calm down during a panic attack?

JessCross41 karma

I think the most important thing is to remember that you are having a panic attack, your body is reacting irrationally and you are not going to die. If you are able to sit with the feeling and not focus on what is causing you anxiety but just recognize it is a panic attack, it should pass in a few minutes. Also, make yourself as comfortable as possible to allow it to pass. I know this is much easier said than done but the adrenaline will burn itself out if you can allow yourself just to sit with it. I am so sorry you experience these, I know they are really hard.

pandabear3416 karma

I do "5 thing you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell and 1 you can taste." My panic attacks are usually through result of me harping on the "it's happening, I'm going to die or pass out" so I distract myself with this method. I also used to scream stop for as long as I could in my head but that didn't always work. Then of course there's the "I give up, I'm going to die, let it finally happen. I'm sick and tired of being scared of it, so let it happen." Seems the submission to the feeling tends to give it less power. Also, Prozac. I honestly couldn't leave the house prior to Prozac 14 years ago. When you find something that works, practice it. I've been successfully dealing with, riding out and letting panic attacks happen since 2003. Good luck my friend.

JessCross2 karma

Thanks so much for these suggestions!

angelicmaiden3 karma

Often at the time I won't realise it's a panic attack annoyingly... I will have some physical symptoms that make me think I'm ill :(

JessCross3 karma

Yup, that is why they are so scary. I wonder if it would help to assume it is a panic attack at least for 3-4 minutes and see if it dissipates.

Soperos-5 karma

I'm completely aware of my panic attacks. They don't just go away. Awful advice.

JessCross2 karma

I am so sorry that doesn't work for you, I know it does for some clients. Have you tried breathing techniques and other relaxation tools like progressive relaxation? I know they help for some people but not others.

xoxo5211 karma

I feel like I clench my jaw a lot but I don't notice when I do it. Any tips for how to relax my jaw?

JessCross3 karma

That is a really hard one as most of us do it in our sleep (I do too). Avoid alcohol and caffeine, don't chew gum and consciously relax your jaw during the day. Try clenching your teeth and then relax and really feel the difference.

pm-me-ur-window-view9 karma

What's the best way to quickly fall asleep at night?

JessCross15 karma

Having good sleep hygiene has several components: https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/insomnia/sleep-hygiene-tips/ I find the most important one for me is turning off all screens an hour before bed (although I do read in bed which this article says not to do). I also can't have any caffeine after Noon. Test some thing to find what is most important for you. Small breaks for meditation throughout the day can also help with thought racing when you are trying to go to sleep. Wish there was a simple formula but it really depends on the person.

guac_n_chips2 karma

I would advise using a program on your computer that automatically reduces the amount of blue light emitted by your computer screen. Research has shown that it's specifically the blue wavelengths that manipulate the circadian rhythm. It takes a bit to get used to but it definitely can't hurt.

JessCross2 karma

I do use that, and I think it is really helpful.

huggsOW8 karma

How do I stop getting mad at video games?

JessCross13 karma

Don't play them...I can't play the really difficult ones as they stress me out. Seriously, I think taking breaks regularly would help with perspective so you aren't so involved in the game.

Eric123458 karma

What effect would the legalization of marijuana have on your field?

JessCross13 karma

Not much, a lot of people don't want to take a substance for relaxation.

PartTimeBarbarian-9 karma

Yet you drink coffee to wake up? Obviously there's nothing wrong with deciding not to use cannabis, and I respect that decision, but that seems like a very arbitrary line to draw.

From personal experience, I'd say cannabis is a pretty excellent tool for reflection, relaxation, and self actualization. YMMV though.

JessCross7 karma

I'm not making any judgments about cannabis and I wish they would make it legal. I have seen the fact that it is illegal destroy people's lives more than the drug has.

DragonKingz124 karma

Aside from meditation, what can I do easily to relieve anxiety?

JessCross13 karma

I love ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and soundscape videos. You can look them up on YouTube and they are easy to access. I often listen to them when I'm doing other things.

Deetchy_2 karma

Did you know that the guy woman who coined "ASMR" thought "meridian" meant climax?

Edit: thanks u/Funslinger for the correction

JessCross5 karma

Nope, never heard that before.

SmallManBigMouth1 karma

I came here to see if you had any opinion on ASMR! I am in love with it, been a tinglehead over 3 years now. Glad to see you like it as well!

JessCross3 karma

I wish I had it to give to clients 10 years ago.

sashonie4 karma

I always worry with massage about the type, pressure, etc.

What do I look for in a massage?

JessCross3 karma

Sometimes it takes trying a few Massage Therapists to find the right fit. Start with a Swedish Massage and you can tell them the type of pressure to use (start with light if you are nervous and ask for more pressure if you want it). You don't have to stay silent during the massage, tell them if anything hurts or isn't enough pressure, it is YOUR massage.

jlingram1034 karma

My job has been exceptionally stressful lately and I'm not sure it's going to slow down soon. For a while I thought I had anxiety then realized I just need to work on how I deal with stress. Any recommendations? As a relaxed person, how bad is a high stress job for you?

JessCross4 karma

I have had many high stress jobs (I ran substance abuse facilities) and I can't say I was always that chill. I eventually moved to less stressful jobs but while I was in the midst, I made sure to do physical exercise at least 3X a week, I ate healthy and tried not to eat a lot of sugar and caffeine, I tried to meditate but had not found guided meditation yet so I struggled with that. ASMR was not around then but that would have really helped. I think the key is to schedule into your day relaxation breaks. Even a 5 minute meditation at your desk, or headphones and an ASMR recording if you work on a computer. Make it a priority to carve out 5-10 minutes a few times a day to help yourself relax. I also received support from family, friends and a therapist when I needed it.

iskiloveland3 karma

Tips to relax for an extremely stressed college student?

JessCross6 karma

I have been there. Avoid computers when you aren't working and TV's. Instead spend time with friends and make sure to exercise, especially outside if you can. I know I didn't exercise or eat well when I was an undergrad and it made everything worse.

OriginalAS82 karma

I have back pain just above the middle point of my back and on the right side. The pain is close to the spine, almost up against it, but not directly on top of the spine. I got this pain about two days ago in the middle of class and it was extremely hard to sit in a chair/ twist my back.

My question is what could this have pain been caused by and how should I treat it?

JessCross2 karma

In case it is not muscular I would get it checked out as it is so close to the spine. If it is muscular it may relax with heat (wet heat is better so a hot bath would be great). Sounds like Rhomboids which can get tight easily. Are you right handed and use a mouse a lot? Could have to do with that as well.

OriginalAS81 karma

I don't think it is anything serious as it has improved a lot since it first started. Yes I am right handed and use a mouse a lot! In fact I use it a lot more than I should. I just looked up Rhomboids online at I think you hit the nail on the head! I have had this pain once before about a year ago and it's awesome to actually know what muscle I'm feeling pain in and what is causing it. Thank you!

JessCross1 karma

So glad! There are some really good Rhomboid stretches that might help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJOzZ3GRuJg

SilverGengar2 karma

Any heart rate reducing techniques? Something to do during tachycardia apart from whatever the doctor tells you to do when you get one, or when it's induced chemically

JessCross2 karma

If it is medical or chemically induced I would hate to make a suggestion that is not based on Doctor's advice.

jackwoww2 karma

How do you stop people from loling at your silly title?

I am a Snacking Specialist, btw

JessCross2 karma

I hope you love your line of work...

fearjunkie2 karma

How do I get through tonight without having a heart attack waiting for the polling results?

JessCross9 karma

Have you seen the Trump and Hillary meditation, it is kind of hilarious: http://technical.ly/brooklyn/2016/11/03/donald-hillary-guided-meditation-sam-lavigne/ I recommend distraction...

mc_kitfox2 karma

or remember that as bad as either candidate might be, they cant stop the sun from rising tomorrow.

JessCross1 karma

Excellent advice!

musicalgamer892 karma

Hello! I am a Board Certified Music Therapist. I enjoyed looking through some of your mediation scripts on your page! I was wondering if you have ever collaborated with a music therapist on the usage of music in sessions? I have really enjoyed talking to massage therapists in the past about the subject. Also, have you ever thought about or considered Guided Imagery and Music training like the Bonnie Method?

JessCross2 karma

I have considered it but I personally find music really distracting during a meditation. I sing and my husband teaches music, so I find myself analyzing the sounds rather than following the meditation. I do think it is really helpful for some people. I have not specifically collaborated with a music therapist though I have a few friends who are music therapists. The cost of having two professionals in a massage is often prohibitive. I am very selective on the music that I play in a massage.

SwoodPotatoChopper2 karma

How do i calm myself when im really angry and had a bad day?

JessCross3 karma

The tools I always turn to are guided meditations and ASMR videos. That or a nap if I have time. It helps me gain perspective.

linzid832 karma

Hiya. I know i'm late to the party, but I teach in primary school (4-12 yrs old). We do relaxation time at least once a week as our kids homelives can be quite chaotic. We teach some breathing techniques, some yoga exercise, time in and massage. Do you have any ideas or examples of anything else we could do??

JessCross3 karma

What about guided meditations. There are some great guided meditation books for kids and from my experience they love them. It is like they are being read a story but they get to close their eyes and picture it in their heads. I might also recommend progressive relaxation moving from your feet to your head: https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf

topazviper2 karma

My wife has a hard time disconnecting when on vacation. She says she can't relax until day 5/6 of a 7 day vacation. It makes it difficult to enjoy a 3 day weekend trip when she is still thinking about work/life. Do you have any recommendations?

JessCross2 karma

I think that is hard for a lot of people. Maybe she could try adding in some additional relaxation techniques prior to the long weekend (massage, bath, meditation, whatever works for her). Some people to benefit more from longer vacations unfortunately.

starsight872 karma

Besides coffee/caffeine reduction, what nutrition advice would you offer to someone looking to reduce stress and anxiety?

JessCross4 karma

Keeping sugar low, and eating fermented foods for the probiotics (I make my own sauerkraut).

Sapnasia2 karma

I get wound up too easily during arguments it's something I'm trying to work on any advice?

Also I've been trying to get into meditating just taking ten mins each day but so far I don't feel it's doing anything and am struggling to stick with it. Am I doing something wrong or should I try something else?

JessCross2 karma

Have you tried guided meditation? That can be helpful if you struggle with mindfulness meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbPljbGQGk0 I think it helps during an argument to make sure you are taking deep breaths, also if it is a loved one, take a break from the argument to calm down if you can. I think it is also important to make statements about how you feel, not what you think the other person feels. This is a big topic though so there are lots of components to consider.

CorvusFemina2 karma

I have multiple sources of high stress in my life. Only one of them (work) is something I can change significantly. Most times I handle the stress fairly well or very well, but about once every 18 months, I seem to burn out and go through a phase where my stress has gotten too great for me to manage with my usual methods. My signs that this is happening are that I become impatient, irritable, less resilient, exhausted, and unmotivated. Beyond eliminating 'extra' stressors and increasing time for self-care, can you recommend anything to help me get through those periods?

JessCross2 karma

I would highly recommend a monthly massage. I know it can seem pricey but many of us spend money on retail therapy and other expensive relaxation when we are stressed when a massage will allow you to release the pressure. Schedule one for the following month before you leave so you make it a priority. My husband will often offer to pay for mine when I have gone so long that he can tell by my mood it is over a month...

intereddit1 karma

Do you recommend any book?

JessCross1 karma

Yes! I am not an affiliate but this is really my go to: https://amzn.com/B0041D8UOK I also have video workshops on my website if you like that format.

icraig911 karma

What can you do that a couple bong hits and a couch can't?

JessCross2 karma

That doesn't work for everyone, I know it wouldn't for me. Alcohol relaxes people too, but especially since I'm raising a child, I wouldn't want that to be my only form of relaxation.

blackandgold431 karma

I am relatively new LMT, do you have any tips or tricks to really help relax my guests?

JessCross2 karma

Pay attention to what they say and their physical reactions to your touch. I think most people are nervous getting a massage if they think you won't listen to them or if you ignore cues that they are uncomfortable. Also, don't initiate conversation. Respond if asked questions but then allow it to be quiet.

Nothedarkweb1 karma

Do you have any Relaxation tips for a nihilist ?

JessCross2 karma

Would a nihilist believe anything I told them?

TryEasySlice1 karma

What's your perfect relaxing Sunday?

JessCross2 karma

Either a meditation retreat, or lots of time in the hammock with a book, then dinner with my family. I have a 5 year old, so I don't get either all that often.

Lepew11 karma

My son is in yoga at HS. They taught him the corpse posture. The entire class fell asleep. I think this is a repackaging of nap time for HS students. Why am I wrong?

JessCross3 karma

I think for HS students it probably does turn into nap time as most kids this age don't get enough sleep. Honestly I always feel like if you fall asleep in meditation you needed the nap, which reduces anxiety too.

donvito391 karma

What is the most generic way to relax quickly?

JessCross3 karma

Hum, generic is an interesting word to use? Maybe deep breathing.

donvito392 karma

I didn't really think you'd answer >.<

How would you suggest I relax prior to an exam so that I may relax and retain more at the same time?

JessCross1 karma

I think just 5 minutes of meditation would help you relax but I know for some people they perform better on tests if they are hyper alert, so it really depends on the person.

captainlocke1 karma

Are there any particular exercises that you recommend to combat anxiety, or just exercise in general?

JessCross2 karma

Are you specifically referring to physical exercise or relaxation exercises? If physical, I think any time you can get out into nature for your physical activity it increases the relaxation effects tremendously.

captainlocke1 karma

I did mean physical, but I'm interested in relaxation exercises, too!

JessCross1 karma

There are lots of breathing exercises. Here is one if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksl86hZUb7Y

GuruRoo1 karma

In terms of ability to reduce immediate stressors and maintain a sense of calm, how highly would you rank a good masturbation sesh, and what might you rank higher?

JessCross2 karma

Depends on what works for you, not really the best technique for stress at work, depending on your job...

9ai1 karma

How does one 'meditate'?

JessCross3 karma

There are lots of different ways. The most basic is to close your eyes and focus on your breath. That can be difficult for a lot of people so I tend to focus on guided meditations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbPljbGQGk0

smb_samba1 karma

What do you think about ASMR? Do you encourage people to explore this as a possible relaxation method? Do you ask them about feelings related to it to see if ASMR triggers might be worth looking into?

JessCross3 karma

I love ASMR! I definitely recommend it. I think ASMR videos are relaxing even for people who don't experience ASMR.

youfuckingslaves-15 karma

Indica has or will replace your job. Is this why Cannabis is still illegal?

JessCross10 karma

Pot always just made me paranoid so I think my job is safe. I think there are lots of crazy political reasons why it is still illegal...

aryst0krat4 karma

Hoo boy, sorry about that guy. He's something else.

JessCross5 karma

To each his own...