By Mia Casey
Everyone gets stressed, regardless of the type of work they do or the lifestyle they lead. There will come a point where work piles up or there’s a family emergency and you get stressed out. Don’t let stress get the better of you! Check out our tips for looking after yourself during times of stress, and watch Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk on how to make stress your friend.
One of the key symptoms of stress is an inability, or difficulty, in getting to sleep. This can negatively impact your productivity, ability to focus and your mood. Setting aside 9 hours a night to sleep is great, but if you’re unable to drift off then it’s not really going to help. There are a few ways you can work to overcome this.
You can try different breathing exercises, such as this one from Dr Weil. Or, try researching some of the numerous breathing techniques used in yoga to help you relax.
If that doesn’t help, there are podcasts dedicated to helping you get to sleep. Mental Floss has compiled a top 10 list here, which includes a variety of options. Giving yourself something else to focus on can help get your mind off of whatever is causing you stress, and give you a chance to fall asleep.
Understanding that stressful situations will arise sooner or later, it’s good to be proactive. Have a look at your schedule or subject outlines and check what weeks are going to require more work than others. Start working on tasks during weeks where you have less due, and begin planning bigger assignments a week or two in advance. This will mean that when you go to start working on these projects in earnest, you’ve already got a heap of the ground work done.
We wrote a pretty awesome post with tips on how to balance work and uni, which is worth checking out for more tips.
Take advantage of technology
There are a TONNE of apps available to help you handle stress positively. For example, Reach Out has their WorryTime app you can use to set your worries aside to deal with at a more appropriate time. You can also go online and research reviews for apps to help you deal with stress, or check out lists like this one that recommend a few to try.
If your stress is work-related, it’s easy to get into the mindset where having fun and being social is taking precious time away from being productive. Wrong! Setting aside time to spend with people you care about is vital during times of stress. You obviously don’t want to neglect your work, but a few hours a week relaxing with friends is great. It gives you the opportunity to talk through any issues you’re having, provide support to those around you, and is a set period of time dedicated to relaxing. Utilising your support networks when stressed can strengthen relationships and help you develop new ideas to overcome whatever challenge you’re facing!
Staying active is important generally, but during times of stress it can really help. Exercise releases endorphins and helps increase brain activity. It also (usually) gives you a repetitive task to focus on, which lets your mind mull over problems in the background while you work out. So grab your music and go for a run, head to the gym or try out a new bush walking track on the weekend!
Drink more water
Forgetting to drink enough water or relying more heavily on caffeine or alcohol during times of stress can be easy. But combining dehydration and stress? Not a great idea. Monitor how much caffeine and alcohol you consume and keep them to a minimum. Also, try to keep a bottle of water with you, and drink regularly throughout the day. This can help ward off any fatigue or lack of focus stemming from dehydration, and let you focus on successfully handling your stress.
Check this out!
Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist with an interest in stress and how to turn it into something positive. Her TED Talk discusses how our perception of stress impacts our reactions to it. Check it out below!
So while the symptoms of stress can be – well, stressful – you can make them work for you. If you’re feeling stressed out, invest in some of these tips for self-care and handle your stress like a pro!
One last piece of advice from McGonigal’s TED talk above:
‘Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort. So I would say that’s really the best way to make decisions – is go after what it is that creates meaning in your life, and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.’
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash