By Hanna Park, Health Promotion Team
Whenever I feel stressed, it can overwhelm me to the extent where I can’t complete even the simplest tasks. Stress may be a common event that occurs in everyone’s lives but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I know that many of you are also experiencing stress during this time of the year. I just want everyone to know, you are not alone! We can battle this stress together!
One thing to keep in mind is that stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Low levels of stress can actually be beneficial since it can motivate you to focus on the tasks that you need to do. It’s only when stress is overwhelming to the point where you are unable to accomplish tasks that it becomes an issue.
Avoiding our stressors by distracting ourselves by smoking and drinking alcohol may temporarily reduce stress. However, this can result in much more negative outcomes in the long run. Additionally, it doesn’t help us dealing with our stressors – it is just a way of avoiding our problems. We want to avoid applying negative coping mechanisms when we’re dealing with stress. Positive coping mechanisms such as stress planning may be a useful tool for you to engage in when you’re dealing with a lot of stress.
- The first step to stress planning includes recognizing your stressor. This essentially means taking the time to identify what is stressing you out. This can be one thing or a number of things. Try to focus on one stressor at a time. Some examples of stressors may be: school, family, relationships, or work.
- The second step to stress planning includes recognizing the signs. This means identifying how the stressor makes you feel. Whether this is identifying the changes that occur in your body and/or emotions.
- The third and final step to stress planning includes creating a solution. This is where you think about possible resolutions to your stressors. Here is how you can decide on the proper solution for your situation:
- Adjust the situation: Can you say no? Is there a way that you can implement your own
- Adjust the way you react to a situation: Instead of reacting to the stressor by automatically feeling stressed, respond to it differently. Some examples include: working out, setting aside time for yourself, smile, and accepting help from others.
- Adjust the way you view the situation: look at the situation positively, search for any hidden opportunities, and look beyond the problem.
Stress planning can be a long process and may require you to tune into your problems. Sometimes, we have no idea where our stress is coming from. Other times, all you need to do is spend a few minutes of your time to reduce your stress. Here are some activities you can engage into reduce your stress levels:
- Meditation: It has been proven that doing meditation everyday can alter the brain’s neural pathways, resulting in more resilience to stress.
- Deep breathing: Take a break and focus on your breathing. Take in a slow, deep breath and slowly breathe out. Doing so will decrease your blood pressure and pulse, resulting in reduced stress and anxiety.
By engaging in these types of activities, you will be able to efficiently manage your stress. Besides aiding in your overall mental and physical health, developing positive coping strategies will increase your problem solving skills, productivity, and energy levels.