Monday, 5 December 2016

The Real Deal with Stress

The real deal with stress
Image courtesy of Jasmine Ray
It’s every student’s favourite topic of discussion! Stress. Online articles, studies and magazines have beaten this horse to death already, but it continues to play a prevalent role in our lives. I can only give my own findings on this subject, and I am far from a psychologist or scientist, but I am a student and can say that following this advice has helped me be stress-free for the majority of my undergrad.

That being said, you probably already know every tip and trick to beat stress; have a bath, exercise, read, spend time with those you love, and absolutely you should continue to use those methods to calm yourself, but when those tactics are no longer working, it’s best to look inward.

Here’s a scary concept: being alone with your thoughts. It’s terrifying because, to be perfectly honest, I think many of us have forgotten how to be alone with our thoughts. Technologies and social media are definitely playing a role here – ground breaking I know - but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had original/ productive thoughts whilst scrolling through whatever media at lightning speed, and then promptly forgotten exactly what I was motivated to do. This applies to Netflix as well, though I can vouch for the need to shut down completely at times, watching TV sucks all motivation and original thought so try to find other ways to pass the time that invigorate you instead.

So,step one: put the phone down, (unless you’re using it to read this, then by all means keep reading).

The second step is a little more in depth, and no, you probably aren’t going to have a good time doing it (not for now) but it is worth it, I promise! You should allow yourself to feel that stress, so that you can come across the source of that stress, (which could be anything from schoolwork to family to a need for change). The only way to become capable of identifying the stressors in your life is to notice your initial emotional response towards that stimulus. As we have so many emotions in a day so it’s only natural that we have to dull them; otherwise we would hardly be capable of getting through a day. By giving yourself this allotted time to be with those emotions you are essentially emptying what’s been pent up – which is a HUGE stress relief. Furthermore, when you’re confronted with that same stimulus in the future you will have a better idea of how to deal with it after identifying it as a stressor.

*Disclaimer:  This will take time and like anything in life it will take practice, but the results are tangible after very little time, and you’ll soon be addicted to the relief that follows these moments of silent reflection. Just don’t dwell too long on your stress – once you’ve identified it, or if you can’t seem to identify it on your own, try talking it out with someone.

Next step: Do whatever you want, whenever you want! I used to think “I should make this a habit” or “I should do this at least X number of times a week” all the time, but then I never would, because I didn’t want to do those activities exactly that many times or badly enough to make them habits. But, when I do what I want to do right when I want to do it, say running or writing or even just taking a bath, those moments are far more productive (i.e. enjoyable) than if I had forced myself to do some activity simply because it was “time” to do it. This also applies to your responsibilities with others, and learning to turn down invites etc. in order to do what you want. This is your time to focus completely on yourself. Maybe some would consider this lazy, but there truly is a difference between being occupied, and being productive. In listening to exactly when and what you want to do, you will make far greater advancements in your projects, and your health, both mental and physical will improve as a result.

Trust yourself to know what is best for you. We usually have all the answers to our problems but have difficulty listening to them for fear of the unknown that they bring. But the toughest answers often bring the best results.

Paige - YouAlberta Contributor

Paige is a fourth year BA student with a double major in French and Spanish. She is passionate about anything cultural (especially cuisine) and loves to travel anywhere new. Her hobbies include feeling guilty for taking naps but doing it anyways, watching old French films, and running long distance.

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