Managing Stress

The Basics

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Some students report that lower stress levels help with their productivity. The extra burst of adrenaline that helps you finish a race or a paper is positive stress. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of college life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off. When, over time, you can’t return back to a relaxed state, stress becomes negative. Physical changes due to stress include increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and stomach and muscle tension.

There are a lot of myths about how people experience stress:

  • If you’re not stressed, you’re not working hard enough
  • Only unpleasant situations are stressful.
  • What’s stressful to me is stressful to you.

Stress is your physical, emotional and mental response to change, regardless of whether the change is perceived as positive or negative.

Take Action

The Signs of Stress: Everyone has a unique combination of stress symptoms, but being aware of your own stress signals is the first step to managing your stress. These signs may include (among many others):

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Fast heart rate
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability
  • Cold sweat
  • Clenched jaw
  • Constant nervousness
  • Often getting sick
  • Forgetting important things
  • Ready tears
  • Backaches or other muscle aches

Here are some of the best tips to help you moderate your stress levels. The tips include ways to manage the stress you’re feeling right this moment, then activities that can help you manage stress longer term and finally some practices that can help you foundationally change your outlook on situations.

Immediate Techniques:

  • Relax with deep breathing
  • Prioritize what you need to do, not only by due dates but also by how much mental capacity it requires- don’t leave your most difficult studying to the end of the night, even if it is a week away.
  • Make a to-do list, but keep it short! When you finish those things, create a new one. Use your prioritizing skills to determine which things go on the list first.
  • Take a 2-hour mini-vacation when you can. Watch a movie, walk to some shops or go out to dinner with a friend.
  • Stretch, even if it is just while sitting at your desk

Daily Supportive Activities:

  • Look for win-win resolutions to conflicts.
  • Make decisions a long time before their deadline, you can reflect its impact on your long-term goals better and are less likely to regret your decision.
  • Determine which situations give you stress and prepare yourself for those situations.
  • Eating healthy
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Live within your budgets.
  • Organize your room or workspace
  • Get enough sleep

Foundations:

  • Reflect on personal values, goals and choices
  • View challenges as opportunities
  • Develop a sense of fulfillment from hobbies or work
  • Work to accept the things you cannot change
  • Live in the present moment- learn from the past and move on

Resources