By: Jadyn Cicerchia
Life is stressful, and that is something most of us cannot change. However, there are different ways to deal with this stress. There are ways to control your stress levels, and change your reaction when presented with stressful situations. I won’t promise that all of your problems will disappear, but these are some small ways you can make life a little easier.
- Make a List
Over the course of my life, I have found that the most important thing I have learned to do is make lists. Seriously, as someone who has been disorganized, forgetful, and frazzled for years, starting to make lists drastically improved my grades, organization, and motivation. You can take so many personal liberties with a list. You can make it as simple or as detailed as you want. If it is enough for you to write “do homework and wash the dishes,” that’s fine. However, when life gets stressful and so much is going on at once, I genuinely find it helpful to plan out every minute of my day. You will start to experience less of that feeling of waking up at 3am because you forgot to do an assignment or hang the laundry. Instead of the added stress of remembering everything you have to do, you can just relax and take it one thing at a time. I find that using both paper and electronics is helpful for me, but feel free to do whatever is right for you. Personally, I have a paper agenda for my school work with a highlighter system. Yellow means due tomorrow or tonight, pink means due in the future, and occasionally I’ll add in blue which means not due today, but due sooner than pink. Then, I make a sort of daily schedule in my notes app on my phone. It truly makes my day so much easier. In case you need some help, I’ll include my exact list from today.
- Walk dog
- Drawing for ceramics
- 10 min break
- Work on mythology project for 30 mins
- Read chapter for Genocide
- Fix math binder
- Set alarm
- Make nail appointment
See, it’s that easy, and it feels great to cross something off the list. The experience of watching the list grow shorter as I get things done is a big motivator. When you have a lot to do, writing it down and physically seeing that you will be able to get it done, and take some breaks in between, takes away a lot of stress. So, next time you are busy and anxious, write a list!
- Distract Yourself
Okay, when you have a lot to do, maybe focusing on something irrelevant isn’t the best idea. But, distraction should not be confused with avoidance, and taking short periods of time to do something you like and forget about your anxiety is important to do. If you are scared you will take too long, time yourself and include breaks in your list, just like I did, so it becomes something that you have to do, but it is an enjoyable thing. Taking zero breaks leads to a build up in your stress levels, causing mental strain and unproductive working sessions. It is better to step away momentarily from something you have been working on for three hours and come back with a fresh mind, then to sit there and get continuously worked up and upset at yourself for struggling. Think of it as a reward. For example, you could say “if I get half of my essay written, I can go on my phone for 10 minutes before I go back to finish.” Taking this time to distract yourself makes you a little happier, and makes you want to finish your work faster so you can get to your break.
- Talk to a Friend
Stress is a hard thing to deal with by yourself, and any support or validation of your struggles can be helpful. One of two things could happen, your friend might know how to help you, or they are struggling just as much as you are, and I think that both of these situations are beneficial. Obviously, it would be great if someone could help you with what you’re struggling with, because that eliminates a lot of your distress. But, I have also found that hearing someone say a project is just as confusing to them as it is to me, or that they have a huge workload too, makes me feel a lot better. Knowing that I am not stupid, this is just a hard assignment, and I’m not the only one who to deal with stress is a great feeling. So, next time you have a lot on your plate, send your friend a text, it can’t hurt!
- Physically Calm Yourself
Now that we have gone over a multitude of ways to make stress a little easier on your mind, I can teach you some things you can do with your body to physically calm yourself down when in a stressful situation. Doing breathing exercises is one way to do this. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Here are some examples of ways to make breathing less boring and more beneficial. One way to ensure proper deep breathing is to put a hand or stuffed animal on your chest and stomach. Then make sure that when you breathe, your stomach, not your chest, is moving. You can pretend you are blowing out a candle or smelling a flower. You should also try to breath out for one more count than you breathed in. There is also a technique called progressive muscle relaxation which helps to release pent up negative energy. You tense up your body and then slowly let go from your feet to your head. You are releasing your stress as you release your muscles. You can also always try something as simple as splashing cool water on your face or running around the house to get the stressful energy out. Something to remember is TIP. This stands for temperature decrease, intense exercise, and paced breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. This is a way to combine all the techniques I taught you.
I hope that this helped and that you can incorporate some of these things into your routine. Remember, your workload won’t change, but your approach to it can.