We are all familiar with stress. It is a normal response that we experience to some extent everyday. A certain level of stress is necessary to function and to motivate us to reach our full potential. Too much stress, however, can be a health hazard. The first important step in stress management involves being aware of when our stress levels have become unhealthy. Once stress overload is recognized, there are a range of stress management skills available to address the problem.
A state of chronic stress is not reached overnight – it takes time! Before reaching this state we may notice many symptoms. Rather than acknowledge the signs, we may push ourselves harder, pretending that everything is fine. This continual exposure to stress decreases our ability to function in every area of our lives.
The good news is we can stop stress escalating by recognizing the warning signs. Some warning signs to be aware of include:
- Changes in appetite
- Increased nicotine, alcohol or caffeine use
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Muscle aches and pains
- Impaired judgment
- Negative thoughts
- Difficulty making decisions
One of the simplest and most effective ways in which you can manage stress involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle balance. Consider the following areas and look to address any of the areas in which you may be lacking:
- A balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Planned relaxation
- Effective organisation of time
- Talking to others
- Mindfulness activities
- Setting effective goals
- Keep a daily journal
Where can I go for more information on stress?
Speak with a student counsellor from REGENT’s Student Counselling Services.
Speak to your GP.
Everybody feels nervous or anxious at some time; it is a normal human reaction. Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes in your life and causes impairment or distress because it is:
- persistent, and
- exists for more days than it doesn’t.
This type of thinking may cause you to ask yourself lots of “what if” type questions and to worry about things excessively. It is important to use helpful thinking strategies that target negative beliefs and relieve the worrying thoughts that cause anxiety. When the tension builds up in your mind, it will give you little peace from unhelpful thinking patterns.
Healthy Strategies to Help
You delay the worry for another day and by delaying it, and concentrating on the tasks at hand, this stops the negative thoughts, delays them and you have a greater chance of forgetting about it.
Don’t let yourself become paralysed by fear, develop an action plan and work towards a solution. For example, if you worry about your studies consider spending less time on other activities and more time on your private study (establish a weekly routine, revise lecture materials, complete readings and start assignments early).
Don’t Give Negative Thoughts Too Much Power
By focusing solely on the negative ideas, you may influence an undesirable outcome; it is more useful to recognise problems as challenges that so far are unsolved and concentrate your efforts on how to successfully deal with it.
Examine Your Worries and the Impact on Your Life
Develop a list of the issues that you spend time worrying about, rate the importance they hold in your life and how much time you spend dwelling on them on a rating scale of 1 -10 with 5 being moderate and 10 being excessive worry. Don’t sweat the small things, focus life on the things you want to achieve and the big picture.
Control Your Thoughts
We need to recognise that we determine our thoughts and that sometimes we give too much power to our worries. By controlling your thoughts you give yourself the power to pursue or reject thoughts, and you will be less prone to worrying about endless worries.
Be Realistic about Yourself
Focus on developing greater self-confidence and esteem and don’t attach your self worth to the marks you get or the opinions of others.
Analyse Your Worries
Ask yourself why am I worrying about this? Are you imagining the worst? Step back from the problem, evaluate its importance and the certainty of it happening and this can often diminish the power of the worry.
Ask yourself, will worrying about this issue solve it? Is worrying a waste of time?
Take practical steps to deal with the issue and don’t waste your time worrying.
Concentrate your efforts on the here and now, enjoy the process of living and focus on working towards solutions rather than predicting negative outcomes.
We recommend the Centre for Clinical Interventions’ What? Me Worry!?! InfoPax
You can explore this information and consider working through it with a REGENT Student Counsellor.
REGENT’s Student Counselling Services also facilitate group based therapy to assist in managing anxiety.