Stress is a natural part of life. We experience stress when there is an imbalance between the demands placed on us and the resources that we perceive are available to us or, in other words, our perceived ability to cope with the situation.
It is impossible never to feel stressed, but you can try to take control over your thoughts and actions in stressful situations.
What to do when you feel stressed
Start by identifying your stress.
- What makes you feel stressed?-situations, places, people, tasks
- How do you react to stress?-what thoughts and feelings do you have and how does your body react?
- Your behaviour-what do you do when you feel stressed?
Common reactions to stress:
- doing things faster
- doing several things at the same time
- putting off tasks or completely avoiding them
- finding it difficult to prioritise, reacting to whatever pops up
These behaviours can be perceived as effective in the moment but will lead to increased stress in the long run.
It is impossible to live a life free from stress, but you can learn how to reduce stress. Continue reading to find out how.
Learn how to reduce stress
Are there things that you can/need to change?
Structure and time management.
When are you going to study, rest, exercise, recover, sleep, and meet with friends? It is important to set boundaries and prioritise. You do not have time for all the things in the world. You may benefit from having a daily schedule. It is important that everything is included in the schedule: study, exercise, recovery, and social activities.
Consider making changes to your lifestyle. Stress can make you forget to eat or eat too much. Alcohol use? Alcohol is not an effective stress relief.
Sometimes, life IS tough. Inevitably, we all have tough days now and then, but that is part of life.
Exercise is ONE important method for coping with stress, and all research indicates that it is an effective way of reducing stress hormones and making you feel more relaxed.
We can all cope with some stress if we have enough time to unwind and recover. Staying stressed for too long, it is easy to forget what it is that you enjoy doing.
Think about what makes you feel rested. Those things are essential for your well-being.
And remember that even the things that we enjoy may become stressors if we forget to make time for recovery.
During times of frequent stress, it is easy to forget to stop and think about one’s own needs. We often live in the future, worrying about what might happen, or in the past, brooding on things that we have done.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment. It is an approach to life that can help increase awareness, consciousness, and empathy.
Mindfulness is about being open-minded and curious and about paying attention to everything that is going on inside your body and mind. It is not supposed to relax you. It is a way of bringing your attention to the present moment and learning how to focus on one thing at a time.
By doing simple meditation exercises, you can learn how to become more mindful and thus make better choices.
You can also turn everyday activities into mindful activities. For example, during a walk, you can practice using your senses. Take in the smells around you, listen to the sound of your own footsteps, feel the wind on your cheek, take notice of the people around you, etc.
If you need help to cope with stress, please get in touch with us.
We provide individual counselling, run stress management and mindfulness groups, and offer online CBT.