As you are already aware, classes are in session! Some of us have already taken midterms, and for others, exams are knocking at the door. It is always a good idea to take a step back, relax, and try to focus on your mental health. A good way to improve your overall health is by managing your stress to the best of your ability. Before I give some stress management tips, it needs to be stated that stress is not always a bad thing! Stress can be beneficial in many instances, however, stress becomes harmful when it consumes the self, but don’t worry, there are ways to mitigate the burden of stress-overload!
Before you can combat stressors, you must be able to recognize stress! In an article from the Harvard Health Letter, published by the Harvard Medical School, recognizing stress involves understanding that it displays itself in the following forms:
Symptoms of stress can take many forms. Stress may cause physical complaints, such as tension headaches, back pain, indigestion, or heart palpitations. It may appear as cognitive problems, such as poor concentration and indecisiveness. Emotional symptoms of stress include crying, irritability, and edginess. And stress can also show up as negative behaviors.
Once you are aware that your body is under too much stress, it is always a good idea to stop for a second, and just take in a few deep breaths. Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to quickly calm down the body! The Harvard Medical School has the following to say regarding stress management:
The first step toward reducing stress is learning what your triggers are. “If you know what pushes your buttons, then avoid it. But there are stresses we have to accept, so we must change our reactions to them,” explains Dr. Webster. She offers the following ways to reduce or manage stress:
- Relaxation techniques.These are activities that trigger the relaxation response, a physiological change that can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. You can achieve this with activities such as meditation, guided imagery, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).CBT is based on the idea that changing unhealthy thinking can change your emotions.
- Goal setting.“When people set goals for themselves, they have a positive sense of commitment, feel they’re in control, and are optimistic,” says Dr. Webster. She recommends setting goals in your career, relationships, creativity, play, and health.
Hopefully this has been a beneficial read! Everyone is capable of controlling the stress that life brings upon us, and if you need help in order to do so, that is perfectly okay! There are countless resources at The Ohio State University that are designed to help students manage their lives, and we at the SMART Lab are always willing to help you understand your stress and give feedback on stress management skills! Stop in and see us soon!
Harvard Health Publishing. “Best Ways to Manage Stress.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/best-ways-to-manage-stress.