Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is Athens, GA, a city famous for not only its “historic architecture” (www.visitathensga.com) but for housing Georgia’s Beloved Bulldogs at the University of Georgia as well.
Although Spring Break was a wonderful way for many of us to take a break from school and recharge, it signifies that we are almost at the end of Spring Semester. This means that for many students there are only a few more months to finish up remaining courses and/or even finish the FINAL courses standing between you and graduation. This time of year is not only an exciting one but it is an incredibly stressful time of year as well. It is important to remember to find things to do that will help you manage and relieve stress so that you can focus on your courses and complete whatever tasks and goals you have set for yourself.
What is Stress?
Ever wonder what stress is? The simplest definition of stress is that it is anything that makes us feel strained or anxious. Stressors can include but are not limited to:
- Work or Project Deadlines
- School work or Mandatory Tests
- A new addition to the family
- Losing a family member
Stress is inevitable. Each person reading this blog post will feel stressed at some point between now and the end of the semester. However, how you react to stress can make all the difference in the world. There are many ways to manage stress, I am going to mention some of the best ways to reduce stress and take you through what I do when I find myself stressed 🙂
Stress Management Techniques
- Drawing, painting, or creating art – For many people artwork can be very calming and cathartic (relieves feelings). Creating art is such a popular stress remedy that many adults and young adults have taken to coloring. There are even coloring books catered to these very groups because of how effective it is in regards to promoting relaxations.
- Reading or writing– Reading or writing are two of the most tried and true stress relief techniques. Reading allows you to lead a life different from your own, even if for only a small amount of time. Reading can also help you escape from the stresses of your day. When you read you can be a wizard facing a dangerous foe, a ghost trying to figure out what happened to you or even be a detective trying to solve a crime. Reading transforms our “ordinary lives” and allows us to be ANYONE we want to be. Writing is very therapeutic when dealing with stress. Writing can allow someone to release their emotions and can be private if done in a diary. More than once I have actually written a letter to someone who made me feel upset but I destroyed the letter before sending it to rid myself the feelings I had towards that person. You also know, from one of my previous posts, the power of writing down a goal and repeating and reading this goal. As a refresher, doing this can help you achieve this goal and literally takes five minutes a day 🙂
- Napping– One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is to take a good old fashioned nap. There is a reason babies get really cranky if they have not had a nap and that is because sleep calms us and allows our brains time to shut down.
- Getting into water Immersing yourself in water is a great way to relieve stress. Taking a bath or swimming are two amazing ways to relax. In fact, salt water which you can find in oceans is extremely healing. It can clear up rashes on your skin and clean any cuts you have. Water is peaceful to us because it reminds us of being in the womb. Many people flock to water to relieve tension or stress whether they are active in a pool or ocean or are hanging out in a bathtub or jacuzzi.
- Massage– Getting a massage doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can ask your parent or loved one to give you a quick shoulder massage. On top of feeling nice, massages help release toxins in our bodies which help us feel better.
- Exercise– Exercising is one of the best stress relief techniques because its free and you can exercise anywhere. You can take a walk, do some yoga, go for a run, or ride a bike. Anything that gets you moving counts as exercise. The benefits of exercise are plentiful and include helping give you more energy, assisting you in maintaining, losing, or even gaining weight depending on what you do, and releasing endorphins , chemicals in our bodies, which help us feel less stressed 🙂
How will I know when I am stressed?
There are some key indicators that will become obvious to those around of you if you are stressed. These include moodiness and a short temper. There are other things you may also notice about yourself when you are stressed which include headaches, trouble focusing, or even getting sick. As you can see managing your stress is an important step in keeping you physically and emotionally healthy.
My Stress Relief Techniques
When I get stressed there are a few things I always do to help myself feel less stressed. Read about them below 🙂
Exercise– As someone who has always played sports it is no surprise that I exercise when I get stressed. My preferred method of stress relief is to take a kickboxing class or go swimming but since those require a kickboxing instructor and a body of water, I have learned to relieve my stress through going for a jog or walk with my family and through practicing yoga. I actually just started yoga a few weeks ago and although I am still learning the ins and outs of yoga, I love how I feel when I practice it. Yoga focuses on breathing on stretching which are two key components to maintaining your health. Many aches and pains can be relieved through stretching and believe it or not learning how to control your breathing can help change your mood instantly.
Venting to a friend– If I am stressed I make sure I have someone to vent too. Sometimes talking out our stresses can help us find different solutions to what is stressing us out. If nothing else it takes your mind off what is causing you stress because you are venting to a friend and you get to catch up. The key here is to make sure you don’t ONLY call that person when you are stressed. You don’t want the person you are venting too to feel like you only call them when you need to unload, nor do you want to always make your problems their problems (which can cause them stress). I have a policy with one of my friends that once a week we will have a chat about the things that are stressing us out. All other talks are vent free unless they happen organically. The planned vent session helps us mentally prepare to hear about someone else’s troubles and helps us avoid always calling each other to talk about our problems.
Finding a Balance
The important thing to remember when dealing with stress is to find a balance. I am not suggesting that if you are stressed you spend your whole day avoiding what is bothering you by reading in the bathtub or napping and painting. Instead, I am suggesting that you recognize the signs that indicate you are stressed and take small breaks and steps to deal with your stress before it becomes too much to bear. I know this is easier said than done but going back to my last post on communication, this is simple of you learn to speak up.
Who can I talk too at school when I am stressed?
The first person you should contact if you are stressed is your professional school counselor. Not only are they great sounding boards for particular issues that are bothering you , but they are knowledgeable about different resources to help you deal with your stress as well.
If you cannot get ahold of your counselor you can address your school center leader when you are stressed. If you attend a brick and mortar center you should know who your leader is, but if not refer back to my communication post 🙂 If you are a virtual student your center leader is me 🙂 If nothing else, reaching out to your center leader signals to someone that something is going on with you and allows us to spring into action to put you in touch with the right person.
My biggest piece of advice.
The best advice I can offer you if you are stressed is to NOT forget about your schoolwork. Communicate you are stressed to someone, take the time to do something for you, but continue to chip away at your work. Getting a few activities completed when you are feeling overwhelmed will help you feel better about your stressful situation. Not doing anything will only cause you to feel more stressed and put you even farther behind. One student below, who manages her busy personal life and schoolwork shares her thoughts on what she does when she is stressed out.
“I work full-time but I remind myself that failure is not an option and that I have set goals for myself that I refuse to give up on. My favorite quote is “push for success” and I just constantly tell myself I can do just that because you can do whatever you want in life if you put your mind to it. I am lucky that my husband and my family support me and understand when I have to stay up late to put in time after working all day or when I have to use the weekends to catch up or put in extra time. I also remember to take a 30 to 60-minute break whenever I do work to give myself a little time to relax when I am working hard.”
Stress is something we all experience, but you don’t have to let stress get the best of you. Find something you enjoy doing and even if you have to write yourself a note or find an accountability buddy, make sure you do that thing when you find yourself getting stressed. Remember that you can always reach out to your professional school counselor or your center leader if you feel overwhelmed. We are here to help and want you to be successful with the end of the semester approaching!