Mentor Letter: How to manage stress
You know the feeling – heart racing, quick breathing and muscles ready for action – stress hormones in your body are the same hormones that trigger our body’s “fight of flight” response.
Stress is a natural reaction to life experiences such as study responsibilities, family situations or world events. Sometimes, short term stress can be beneficial and it helps you to cope with serious situations, however ongoing stress can take a toll on your health.
Signs of ongoing stress may include irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia.
We know that uncertainty about the future amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown in many countries, including South Africa, is taking its toll on our daily stress levels and coping mechanisms.
Effective stress management is therefore very important! Your ultimate goal should be a balanced life with time for both work and play.
The 4 A’s is a great way to manage stress – Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept.
Say “no”! Be aware of your limits and time constraints. Avoid situations that prevent you from staying focused and don’t take on too much at a time. Learn to differentiate between “should” and “must”. Split your to-do list into “must-do” and “should do” tasks. Avoid people who stress you out and rather spend time with people who contribute to you dealing with your stress successfully.
If you cannot avoid a situation, change it by expressing your feelings in a respectful way. Tell someone if something is bothering you. Along with expressing your feelings, you need to be willing to compromise; we cannot expect others to change their behaviour, if we are not willing to bend a little as well.
Change the way in which you view your stress – adjust your standards – redefine your idea of success and perfection. Stop gloomy thoughts when they occur and do not replay stressful situations. Adopt a saying to use when you are going through stressful situations such as, “Will this matter in a couple of years?”.
At times the only response is to accept things as they are, however, talking to someone about your stress is a way of relieving the pressure. Accepting certain things such as an upcoming exam and planning around, it will help keep the stress levels down.
Short-term tips to manage stress includes the following:
• Accept that there are things that you cannot control
• Exercise regularly
• Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
• Focus on the positive
• Set reachable short-term goals
• Laugh, look for humour in your life
• Set aside 5 – 10 minutes for yourself ever day
• Listen to music
• Talk to a friend or to the Brainline Mentor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Image Credit: Alyssa Coetzee (Brainline Student)
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