Tessa Murray • Jul 01, 2019
All of us (even those of us here at the SJPC!) experience times of increased stress. During those times, it is easy to wallow in the stress and feel as though we are helpless to combat it. Check out some easy changes you can make that will help you learn to keep that stress in check!
1) Physical Activity:
Having regular physical activity blended within your daily routine is probably one of the most crucial habits to benefit your health and help you manage your stress. Stressful situations increase levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body. This method is beneficial when dealing with stress and anxiety as physical exercise can be used to metabolize the intemperate stress hormones. An added benefit - regular exercise can help with maintaining healthy body weight and the prevention of illnesses!
2) Getting Enough Sleep:
Getting enough sleep is very important for daily function, general health and for your mental health. Not getting enough sleep daily can cause feelings of anxiety and tension and can lead to longer-term problems. Exhaustion lowers your patience level, making us more irritable around others. Exhaustion can also make it more likely for us to use maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoidance and unhealthy habits instead of more adaptive ones (like exercise - see above!). Good sleep and sleep hygiene (habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well) are effective strategies for helping you combat stress.
Practicing mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the western world. It is one of the best ways to deal with stress. Mindfulness is described as the psychological process of bringing your attention to the external and internal experiences happening in the present moment. You can try practicing mindfulness with some basic exercises, including living in the moment, focusing on your breathing, and paying more attention to your surroundings and your sensory experiences(i.e., identifying things around you can see, smell, taste, hear, and feel).
4) Time Management:
Poor time management is a major contribution of daily stress! Good time managements skills (such as organizing and prioritizing your time, planning, making a list of tasks that you can accomplish during a fixed period) can prevent and help you cope with stress, furthermore, effectively managing your time allows you to have a balanced professional, personal and social life which increases happiness and reduces daily stress.
5) Talk to Someone:
Another strategy to help manage stress is talking to someone. By doing this, it may help put things into perspective, and may help to release some of the tension. Also, talking to others reduces social isolation and makes us feel more connected to the world.
6) Avoiding or Reducing the Consumption of Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine:
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which increase the level of stress rather than reduce it. This can lead to feelings to shakiness and restlessness. Alcohol, while considered a depressant when consumed in large quantities, acts as a stimulant when consumed more regularly. Swapping caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages with water and other healthy drinks (i.e., herbal teas) helps keep you hydrated, which will enable your body to cope better with stress.
7) Write It Down:
Keeping a journal is an effective stress management tool as it can help you become more conscious of any of the situations which cause stress. When writing in your journal, keep track of the date, time, place of each stressful episode, what you are doing, who you are with, how you felt emotionally and physically, and how you coped with the stress. You should use the journal to learn more about triggers and how successful you are in stressful situations. Journaling is also a great way to see your progress in improving your stress management techniques over time!
8) Learning to Say "No":
So many of us feel the pressure to take on more than we can handle - be it to impress others, add to our resume, or come across as the "super human" who has it all. To reduce stress, learn to take on what you know you can manage. An everyday stressor is having too many tasks to do and not enough time to complete them. Learning how to say "no" to extra nonessential tasks will help reduce stress and establish healthy boundaries.
9) Healthy Eating:
Your diet can help you boost your mental energy and your brain power. Improving your diet can make you feel better physically, which makes it easier for us to tolerate stress. It is important to eat regular and balanced meals. Preparing healthy meals and snack ahead of time is a great way to ensure that you are getting a healthy diet without adding to your daily stress - without a plan, it is a lot easier to stop for take out on the way home after a busy day than ear the healthy meal prepared in your fridge!
10) Make Time for What You Enjoy
Making time for hobbies or activities you enjoy helps alleviate stress and puts your mind at ease. Partaking in hobbies or activities you enjoy is a good distractor from stressors and can lead to other positive benefits (e.g., increased social contact, more pleasure/enjoyment in life, reduced use of more maladaptive coping strategies).
Now that I have done this research, I realize as a Psychology student at UNBSJ, I need to do more physical activity and make sure I get enough sleep, so I am able to perform well studying, doing assignments/projects, and writing tests.