Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Feeling Stressed these Days?

If so, you're not exactly alone.  For tons of college students (as well as almost everybody else roaming this planet), stress is an all-too-familiar part of life.

School, friends, family, jobs, money, holidays, boyfriends/girlfriends, future plans, the world--all can make you feel anxious and weighed down.  A student told me recently that he had so many things to stress about in his life that he often didn't know what to worry about first.  While his reaction was probably a little extreme, he may have been simply verbalizing what a lot of other people are feeling.

What can you do to reduce the stresses in your life--those killer tests coming up, that difficult family situation, that pain-in-the-butt boss, that relationship that may or may not work out, etc. etc.?

First, recognize the sources of stress (whatever they may be) and do your best to avoid or minimize them. While sidestepping stressful situations isn't always possible, of course, it can sometimes help. If a person or behavior or situation routinely pushes your buttons, for example, think about what you can do to keep from being agitated.  If dodging a source of stress makes you feel better, why not do so? Removing yourself may be just what's needed. 

Some other common sense behaviors can also help.  Being rested almost always makes life's challenges seem less formidable.  So does being organized, which will help you stay on top of those endless deadlines and demands (and feel less at the mercy of life's whims in the process).  And let's not forget the power of exercise and fun, whether it be working out, jogging, listening to music, making your favorite meal, or simply setting aside time for that interest or activity that brings you joy.     

On its web page, NCC's Psychological Counseling Center offers some good strategies for dealing with stress and handling life's hurdles. The list is definitely worth a look--you'll come away with useful advice for keeping the walls from closing in.  Pay attention to two pieces in particular: 1) the importance of adjusting your perception of things--viewing potentially stressful situations as opportunities to find creative solutions to challenges; and 2) the importance of reassuring yourself (through positive self-talk) that you can handle whatever school or life throws at you. 

I'd add one more strategy: Take setbacks in stride. Remember that nobody's life is perfect and that everybody deals with disappointments now and then. At those times when things don't work out exactly as you'd like, don't stress--and don't get down on yourself. Instead, learn from what's happened and tell yourself that next time things will be different.  

Chances are they will be.  

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