Naureen Aqueel

Managing stress in an effective way

Posted on: November 24, 2007

Published in The News, Educationzine, November 24, 2007.

As exams approach, many students who could otherwise do well, often get bogged down by stress and tension which lowers their performance and prevents them from doing their absolute best.

It is therefore, very important for us to learn how to manage stress and for that matter, how to avoid getting stressed out. The application of this knowledge must not be limited only to exams, because stress accompanies almost every role in life. You may be a student with a deadline hovering around the corner and too much work to do; a housewife experiencing strains in your relationship with your husband; a young graduate facing unemployment and having many mouths to feed; or an entrepreneur pressurized by the cut-throat competition in the corporate world—life is filled with stress which threatens the smooth pace of life and can have detrimental effects on health. But what matters most about a stressful situation is not how bad it is, but how you take it.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid stress and how to fight it back when it actually does come:

1. Take things lightly:

Try to maintain a positive and optimistic attitude towards life. Avoid getting tense and worried over little things. When confronted with a new and difficult situation or project, tell yourself:  “I can do it, it will all come out okay. I’ve been through similar things before.” They say: “The difference between mediocrity and excellence is attitude.” If you approach problems with a positive attitude, you will most certainly make it through.

2. Know you limits:

Many people in their over-enthusiasm to achieve more and more take up too much work upon themselves. Others are unable to say “No” when requests are made to them. Over-commitment and the inability to say “No” is one of the major causes of stress. Learn to say “No” when you know you cannot do it.

3. Get a proper diet and proper sleep:

The food that you take into your body can affect how you handle the stresses that come your way. Take a proper diet rich in essential nutrients, fresh fruits and adequate water. Avoid going hungry when faced with a workload. This only increases stress and sometimes makes you get worried over the smallest of issues. So does going on without sleep just to meet deadlines. Remember that just like any other machine, you must refuel your body and that is done with rest, sleep, food, water, exercise and leisure. Manage your time properly and ensure that you get enough of these “essential fuels” for a healthy life.

4.Ask for help and don’t be afraid to delegate:

Sometimes it is wise to delegate work and ask others to help you instead of trying to tackle all the tasks yourself. Don’t be shy to ask others for help, as long it is not unethical to seek the help of others for a specific task. You can do much more and without stress when you have others to help.

5. Give yourself proper breaks:

Set time out for physical, mental and emotional breaks. The mind relaxes with variety and not just sleep. So, make sure you provide yourself with different activities to help your mind relax.

6. Relaxation exercises:

When you feel the stress clouding over, take out only a few minutes to simply relax by stretching out in a comfortable position and carry out breathing exercises. This can do wonders to your stress level. Concentrate on breathing deeply and slowly. You can also use your powers of imagination to envision yourself in a tranquil setting. This will help your mind and body relax and you will feel at peace. Short afternoon naps can also help ease the chaotic situation you find your mind in.

7. Seek Social Support:

Social support from friends and family, or from others such as teachers or counselors can be very helpful at coping with stress. Talk out your problems with those who listen and whom you trust. You will feel lighter by doing this. Psychologists have found that talking about one’s problems is one of the most effective coping strategies. People who have strong socially supportive relations to listen to them when they talk about their stresses, problems, frustrations and pains have been found to be higher on the psychological and subjective well-being scale.

8. Hope:

When matters seem to be taking on strides where you feel there is nothing you can do and when you feel helpless, the best way to cope is to live with it. Hope in being able to live through it, many a time helps people survive the worst of circumstances. Strong faith and prayer can help us survive the most unbearable of situations. A common quote in this regard is: “If God has brought you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Therefore, what really determines stress is how you react to what comes your way. You yourself can determine your level of stress, it is only a matter of taking control and not giving in.

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