Managing stress is about taking charge of our thoughts and feelings, our environment, our time table and the way we respond to problems and stressors.
A degree of stress is helpful, it gets us motivated to get off the couch and go for a walk, or helps us to turn off the computer game or TV and get on with writing the essay that is due. A excess of stress is not much fun and can have us experiencing a range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
Those who cope well with stress usually demonstrate the following:
- Internal control (able to respond to stress appropriately and turn difficulties into challenges);
- Social Support (have friends, family or a community they can lean on for support and guidance);
- Anchors (have personal beliefs and values, routines, meaningful things or places that support them to cope with stress);
- Physical care (attend to their physical needs i.e. sleep exercise, nutrition);
- Involvement (participate with a group or community, have a sense of belonging );
- Interpretation of events (have a positive outlook, see themselves as competent and able to effectively influence a situation);
- Reactions to stress (are constructive).
There are many things that we can do to reduce the symptoms of stress depending on the triggers to our experience. In some cases i.e. illness we may need to accept we need to rest and let go of expectations to complete studies or attend work until we are fully recovered. For ongoing stress there are plenty of things we can do to manage the symptoms of stress.
These may include:
- Try and solve problems by coming up with alternative options or solutions
- Talk supportively and kindly to your self
- Take a break
- Breathe, simply observe your breath for 1 to 3 minutes
- Practice a mindfulness exercise, notice 5 things I can see, hear, feel,smell, taste)
- Stand back from your thoughts, observe them, let them go
- Manage time; allocate time to address tasks and to care for your self
- Eat a balanced diet,
- Eat three meals a day including breakfast
- Drinking plenty of water
- Get to bed around 10 to 10.30pm, develop a sleep routine
- Get exercise where possible every day
- Get a little sun on your skin and be outside in the daylight
- Try not to watch TV or work on the computer 30 to 60 minutes' before bed
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Making time in each day to stop and rest even if it's just for 5 minutes'
- Reduce the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes
- Eat food low in fat
- Enjoy the company of friends and family
- Take time out from your worries and concerns
- Practice relaxation and or Meditation where possible daily
- Listen to music
- Dance, sing, play, stretch
- Watch or listen to a comedy
- Talk to a friend or family member
- Get help from services i.e. the Academic Skills' Centre or the Accessibility Office.
- Access the services of a health Professional via the UC Medical & Counselling Service.
Stress is a common experience of being human. You may like to try some of the suggestions above and see what you can do to respond to stress in a more healthful way.