Coping with Stress
On a day-to-day basis, we may face an onslaught of stress. From the left, we can get hit with a lot of work at our job; from the right, arguments with loved ones; in front of us, may be an exam we dread; and in back of us is a nagging thought of wanting to do everything to absolute perfection.
If not dealt with properly, this stress can overwhelm us and even cause us serious health problems. To try and avoid having physical and mental problems as a result of all of this, consider the techniques outlined below that will help you cope with all sorts of bad stress , or the psychological and physiological response to any real or imagined disruptions, demands, stimulations, or changes in life.
Dealing with Academic Stress
One huge component of academic stress is test anxiety , a type of performance anxiety that causes distress during an exam. Let’s take look at some techniques that help you deal with this:
- Prepare in advance, rehearse, and repeat. This means you should throw away the last-minute cram techniques. Most techniques outlined below will fail if you don’t follow this one simple rule!
- Also, sleep well. I always had a rule, thanks to preparing well in advance, to always get, at minimum, seven hours of sleep before an exam. If you’ve prepared enough ahead of time for the test, another hour or two of studying - as opposed to getting some extra sleep - may actually hurt your test score.
- Don’t discuss test details with friends right before the test. We’ve all been there, where your friends say something that throws you completely off-balance and adds to the confusion minutes before the test. Therefore, sit silently and build up your confidence instead by reminding yourself that you’ve prepared really well.
- Also, pace yourself, ask for clarification, and don’t linger on a question for too long. All three are related a bit since you should come back to a question when you’re unsure or ask for clarification. Otherwise, if you don’t pace yourself well-enough, you may miss a huge chunk of the test.
As a bonus, free of charge, I’d like to share two other techniques 20 years’ worth of K-12, undergraduate, and medical education have proven to work for me in acing the hardest exams.
- At your desk, review everything for the next day’s exam immediately before going to sleep. When you wake up, you may notice your brain was actually automatically reviewing stuff over and over again as you were sleeping! You seriously can’t beat that. It’s almost as good as free money.
- Also, study by writing down questions. As you read a text, write down essay questions you will have to explain and answer yourself. Since the test will be asking you questions, by formulating questions and answers instead of simply memorizing facts, you’ll get into the mindset of taking the test even before you do so!
Dealing with Stress at Work
Those of you who are working professionals, or even students who work, can relate to the fact that work-related stress can be as daunting as academic anxiety. Techniques for dealing with the horrors of work are many. We’ll go over some of them right now:
- Identify the problem: Not so rarely, we may be apprehensive because we can’t clearly define what the problem is. If you cannot figure out the problem, then there’s no way you can find an effective solution. That alone causes a lot of grief!
- Take a step back: If something is making you unhappy, it may not hurt to give yourself a cool-down period before saying or doing something you’ll regret. When you’re riled up instead of being cool-headed, you’re likely to make more mistakes, thereby compounding the situation.
- Organize: Prioritize your work tasks if you feel overwhelmed. Start with the most important and pressing and move down the list so you don’t feel like you have to get everything done at once, which is usually impossible.
- Ask for help: Sometimes, you will have so much to do that even prioritizing won’t meet your deadline.
- Look at the positives: Think about what you enjoy about the job. Is it a colleague that makes your day? Maybe it’s what you achieve that makes you want to be there.
Coping with Stress in General
Be that as it may, I focused on stress at work and school since those are two common places we experience strain in our day-to-day lives. Also, we can’t possibly review every technique for all the other types of stressors, including those arising from personal relationships, the environment, and so forth. Therefore, here are some general techniques that will help to alleviate stress or help you deal with it more appropriately:
- Sleep: Too little or too much of this precious commodity can increase our levels of panic great and small. Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep per day. But quantity isn’t everything - quality counts too. Establishing a routine, cutting out naps, avoiding things like caffeine, and not studying or working in bed all help improve the quality of your sleep.
- Also, watch your nutrition: Eating a breakfast every day, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and avoiding a lot of empty calories and fat have all been shown to improve overall well-being!
- Exercise: 30 minutes a day, five times a week of aerobic exercise helps a person de-stress by focusing their mind away from whatever is causing tension. Exercise also helps to release endorphins , the natural chemicals produced by the body that help to counter stress.
- And, don’t forget about laughter: Instead of watching a horror movie, a comedy may be best, as the physical act of smiling and laughing also helps a person to de-stress.
There’s so much more of course! Yoga, massage therapy, visualizing a beautiful scene, and all sorts of other techniques can be used to help you live a life free from stress - or at least one where it is easier to manage it.
It being stress , of course, the psychological and physiological response to any real or imagined disruptions, demands, stimulations, or changes in life. School, work, and life in general has plenty of it. A big part of academic stress is test anxiety , a type of performance anxiety that causes distress during an exam. You can counter this by preparing well ahead of time, pacing yourself during the exam, and reviewing everything the night before.
Work is also chock full of tension. By identifying the problem, taking a step back, organizing, and asking for help, you can help alleviate some of the burdens you face. And in general, lots of good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and laughter can help you cope with stress across the whole spectrum of life. One reason for this is natural chemicals produced by the body that help to counter stress, called endorphins , which are released when you exercise.