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We all know that too much stress can be bad for you, both physically and mentally. While stress may be inevitable, especially if you’re going through changes, high levels of stress put your entire well-being at risk. Different people find different situations stressful. The key question at hand is how well do you cope with stress and feeling like you’re out of control of your emotions? Contrary to popular belief, you may have more control than you think. It is therefore helpful to be aware of a wide range of tools and techniques for managing stress.
Being able to manage your stress helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life – balancing school, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head-on.
However, stress management is not one-size-fits-all. Stress management is a personal experience and solutions will differ for each person. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. However, it might be quite useful to interrogate your relationship with stress in general.
The following stress management tips can help you do that.
Identify the source of the stress
This might seem like an obvious start but you would be surprised how so many people fail to identify the cause of the stress. They know very well, that they’re feeling some overwhelming pressure but fail to identify the exact root. While it’s easy to identify major stressors such as upcoming exams, changing a course, moving, starting a new career, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated than that. It’s all too easy to overlook how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.
Practice the 4A’s of Stress management – Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept
- As tough as this is, try and avoid all things that may cause or trigger your stress. For example, procrastination, If you leave assignments and tasks till the last minute, this may be overwhelming and can lead to stress.
- If there’s a particular person who causes you stress, please try and limit the time you spend with them, especially if you’ve confronted them and they’re unwilling to change.
Alter the situation
- If you can’t avoid the situation, then try and alter the matter. This involves the way you communicate and operate in your daily life. This means if something is bothering you, be more assertive and raise your concerns because your feelings are valid.
- In terms of operating in your daily life, try to find a balance between school and family life, social life and passion projects and daily responsibilities. This is to avoid burnout.
- If you can’t change the stressful situation, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Secondly, perspective is important. Looking at something differently helps. Ask yourself how important will it be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Accept the things you can’t change
- Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are.
- Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than stressing against a situation you can’t change.
- Sometimes stresses may provide an opportunity for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
Instead of isolating, connect with others
There is nothing more calming than spending quality time with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. I know we live in such a virtual world but nothing can beat human interaction. Face-to-face interaction triggers a cascade of hormones that counteracts the body’s defensive “fight-or-flight” response. Connecting with others is nature’s natural stress reliever (it can also help with depression and anxiety). So, make it a point to connect regularly—and in-person—with family and friends.