STRESS MANAGEMENT ISSUE
- September 2006
It is September, and you are a freshman in college. You are away from home for the first time, settling in to new surroundings, a roommate, and cafeteria food. The first day of class has come and went leaving you with a pile of books, schedules, and endless projects to be done. Your roommate, also a first time freshman, has been enjoying the college life hosting parties every evening of the week. You are sleep deprived, your stomach aches from all that take out food, and Thanksgiving break seems so far away.
College can be one of the most exciting times in your life, and it can be one of the most stressful. Stress is a fact of life, and the demands of college can leave you with feelings of being overwhelmed. This issue of the newsletter is focused on how to recognize the symptoms of stress, and what to do to manage them.
Question: What are symptoms of stress?
Besides the obvious complaints of tenseness, anxiety and nervousness, our bodies can exhibit stress in fatigue, nail biting, hair twirling, a rise in blood pressure, an upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation. You might have difficulty sleeping or feel restless as well.
Question: What can I do?
Change you attitude
- Get perspective! Ask yourself, "How important will this seem in a week, month, year or twenty years. " Remember that it is not the event itself that is stressful, but the way in which your perception of the event is and what you do about it.
- Be positive and don't put yourself down. Remember, nobody is perfect and luckily, you don't have to be.
- Be flexible. Real life situations involve unexpected interruptions.
Take care of yourself
- Balance physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
- Be sure to get enough sleep
- Build a support system. Friends and family can be your strongest allies.
- Take routine breaks from schoolwork. It will keep you more alert and productive.
- Don't skip meals. Food provides energy to tackle stress
- Live within your means. Overspending can be very stressful.
- Listen to peaceful music to unwind.
- Meditation and relaxation exercises. Relaxation Techniques can combat the stress response by helping the body return to a balanced state and reverse some of the psychological effects of stress response ( i.e.: elevated blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Examples include and are not limited to breathing exercises, body awareness, meditation, visualization and guided relaxation.
- Laugh! Go see a funny movie, a comedy show, or call up a silly friend.
- Be here now. The single task (or pleasure!) before you is all that you need to focus on now.
- Pamper yourself
- Exercise. Daily exercise, including stretching, breathing and aerobic exercises is important lifestyle habits to develop for relief of anxiety and stress.
Manage your time
- Use a daytimer to schedule all of your commitments and social events.
- Make a daily "to do " list
- Prioritize your duties
- Be selective. You can't do everything. Quality is more important then quantity
- Learn to take power naps. A 20 minute nap can reenergize you for hours.
- Budget your time. Study while on the bus, review between classes, read while eating.
- Don't be overcommitted. Learn to say "no"
- Set aside some time to have fun.
- Know your peak energy times and prioritize your activities when you know your energy is at its highest.
- Focus on one thing at a time.