Stress… We hear this word around us so often, yet it seems to be so difficult to manage.
What really is stress? Stress can be described as a feeling of physical or emotional tension. It is something that all of us experience. In fact, it is a completely normal human reaction. Stress is part of our body’s natural fight-or-flight mechanism, an automatic reaction that occurs in response to a perceived dangerous event. It represents two choices that our ancestors were faced with, either to fight or to flee from a threat.
Today, stress is part of many of our lives. Especially being university students with hectic schedules and a number of responsibilities, to us, stress is nothing new. It can make us frustrated, irritable and anxious.
Learning to manage stress is extremely important. Of course, different methods work for different people. Here are five general and important approaches to keep in mind when learning how to deal with and relieve stress:
One bite at a time
I like to remember the phrase, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time”. Once wisely said by Desmond Tutu, who was a South African Anglican bishop and theologian. His expression implies that when life feels overwhelming and daunting, we need to remind ourselves that tackling everything at once is not productive. It is important to split up worries into sections and to work step by step. Accomplishing something as big as an elephant is manageable only by breaking it down!
Although it may be easier said than done, managing procrastination definitely plays a big role in stress prevention. Getting things done and out of the way as soon as possible, instead of leaving them until the last minute is far more efficient. When the to-do list becomes longer and longer as work starts to build up, you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Staying organised and removing distractions will help with not procrastinating and consequently reducing stress.
Connect with people
Socialisation, spending time with family and friends, is an important component of stress reduction. Whether it’s to complete tasks together or simply to enjoy each other’s company, either way, it’s an essential part of life. After all, we are human beings and we need social interactions. So make sure to surround yourself with people who will support you and who make you feel good!
Unfortunately, we tend to completely disregard ourselves in times of pressure which often ends up affecting us even more negatively. Any form of pampering re-energizes you both inside and out. Taking time out of your day to maintain self-care and to do something for yourself is key! Maintain a balance and leave some time in your day to do something that you enjoy. Ultimately, feeling your best both mentally and physically will make you more resilient when handling life’s stresses.
Lastly, doing some type of physical activity on a regular basis has an extensive list of benefits. Whether it’s going for a run, a swim, to the gym, doing yoga or simply for a walk, any form of exercise – and even better, one which includes fresh air – will free your mind. Just make sure that the activity is something that you find pleasurable in order to sweat off and release your tensions.
It is important to remember that it is almost impossible to feel completely stress-free and worry-free for the rest of your life. Stress, at a reasonable level, has some positives as it helps us grow and challenges us. Nevertheless, we can’t let our stress get too high and take control as then it becomes unhealthy and unbearable. Hopefully, these 5 tips will help you get your life worries to a more manageable level!