How To Manage Your Stress Effectively
It is that time of the year where stress in students would be at its peak. With Entrance Exams approaching for aspirants and semester exams and placement season for current students, stress would play a major role in exams. Some amount of stress is inevitable no matter how ‘chilled out’ you are about your studies or how well prepared you think you are. The point is to function with a level of stress that benefits you and not that deters you from moving forward. The key to manage any thing is to understand the thing well. So let’s see what stress is? One of the definition in Oxford dictionary suggests that stress is “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” Exams and test preparation being the adverse and demanding circumstances here, you need an outlet to better manage the emotional strain that’s a part and parcel of studying for and in a rigorous course.
How does stress affect us? Increase or decrease in appetite, insomnia, increase in negative thoughts, anxiety, palpitations, perspiring a lot and so on are few signs also associated with being stressed. The effect of stress is not only limited to your exams but also to your lifestyle patterns such as food, sleep, emotions and thoughts. And all these in turn will affect your exam performance. So can you manage to be stress-free at all times? That’s highly unlikely so the next best thing that you can do is learn to effectively manage it. And as an MBA aspirant and/or a current student, stress management is one of the most required skills you’d need to be effective and to ensure that your team is effective.
Below are some ways that can help you to manage your stress effectively:
– First thing that you can do to minimize your stress is to get organized. Lack of efficient organizing skills is what results in people feeling overwhelmed and stress. Become a list maker. Make a master to do list. This is your source list detailing all the tasks and involvement that you want to accomplish. This is your primary list. Second list is your will do today list which details how you want to spend your time today. Third and the last list is your will do later list which enables you to schedule tasks in the coming days or weeks. There are actually plenty of ways to get organized. One way is to adopt the practice of keeping a bullet journal. I was the least organised person ever but that changed when I started my own bullet journal. If there’s only one journal that you can keep, it should be the bullet journal.
There are plenty of videos out there to help you understand this system. Remember that the organizing skills are used to make you feel less stressed and not more stressed so if one way doesn’t work for you, try another until you find something which works for you. New age technology also facilitates this. Yes, it might sound weird that the key to manage one thing is to manage the other but give this a thought and try it out. Try out different time managing apps such as Forest, Wunderlist, Jorte, MyStudyLife and some google extensions such as Momentum, Wunderlist, etc.
– Alter your perception towards the stressor:
I worried about anything and everything. I worried about my grades, my social life, my future, my past. I even worried about what I’d eat in a day. Everything around me seemed stressful. Looking back at the situation I now realize that it wasn’t everything around me that was stressful but my outlook towards everything that was flawed.
Sometimes your perception towards the stressor is the issue and not the stressor itself. Try and re-frame your experience in a positive manner. Always look at what you gained from the experience rather than what you lost because of it. Try and look at the bigger picture and ask yourself- would you being stressed about your situation right now matter in a years time? If not, then train your mind to let go of the negativity. And if nothing works, distract yourself. Listen to your favorite songs, read a book, go for a swim, do anything and everything that makes you happy, gets you in a positive mood and then once you’re in a better mood, go and deal with the stressor. Here the important thing is that you learn to identify the things that you can’t change and let that go.
– Control your thoughts:
For those of you who have seen the movie ‘Clockwork Orange’, ‘Ludovico Technique’ (a fictional aversion therapy) was administered on patients to condition them to experience severe nausea when experiencing or even thinking about violence hence creating an aversion to violence. Using the same principle of aversion therapy, we can learn how to deal with negative disruptive thoughts that induce stress.
Stress is a reaction to our perception of the environment. If the thoughts are too negative or unrealistic the stress we endure is heightened. So this technique helps in being aware of the thought and literally ‘Snapping out of it’. It is a thought stopping technique that has proved to be useful for many people. You just need a rubber band to use to help interrupt the negative thought. Simply take an ordinary rubber band and put it around your wrist. Now, whenever you notice that you’re over-thinking and that would potentially lead for you to feel stressed, pull the elastic and let it snap your wrist. This mustn’t be painful- just a sharp reminder that you have to let this distressing thought to go. You can even combine this technique with various breathing and relaxation technique. Instead of replacing the unwanted thought you simply focus on your breathing. At least continue this technique for 21-28 days as it takes that long to develop a habit. Once it is ingrained in your system it will work effectively.
– Get a Hobby: Stress is a part of today’s world. But there is one world that makes you not only forget about the stress but also helps you feel relaxed. And that world is that of hobbies. It could be anything. But it should be something that makes you happy and helps you feel relaxed. Don’t have a hobby? Not to worry. Here’s a list of few things that you can try: reading, journaling, writing, dancing, cooking, learn to play an instrument, gymming, learn a new language, meditate, sports, colouring. The latest trend is that of adult colouring books. They are colouring books meant for adults with intricate designs ranging from cartoon characters to fictional characters. From personal experience, I can say it is definitely a stress buster and quite therapeutic. What’s more, there is an adult colouring book for all you Game of Thrones lovers.
– Improve your Lifestyle: Beyond the techniques mentioned above to effectively manage stress, one thing that you can do is improve your lifestyle. Stress takes a toll on both mental and physical health. By improving your lifestyle, you make it possible for yourself to handle stress effectively. In order to do so, you need to eat right, sleep well, have some amount of exercise in your routine. Have food that is rich in proteins and carbohydrates. And don’t forget to keep a chocolate handy to keep the ‘dementors’ away.
Lastly, do you remember the feeling after you clean your wardrobe, fixing something or even as personal as getting a haircut done? Pretty good feeling right? When in stress, doing such simple and trivial tasks can also help you feel good. Small accomplishments can often produce impressive emotional payoffs. They can be any self maintenance tasks, errands, some household work etc. and the best part is, you even get the work done which had been pending since a while now. Initially they may feel like “work-work” yet once you start and finish any of these tasks you’ll be surprised at just how pleased and good you feel. The trick is to just start.
Stress has become a part of our life. Instead of harboring negative feelings about stress, it’s time to take action and make sure that you perform well under pressure. Instead of running away from it, embrace it as a part of life.