Coping with Stress

A stress-free place.

I was reading a blog entry on Lindsay’s blog about the many stresses that have been surrounding her, and wanted to share some pointers with her.  However, upon beginning writing a comment to her, I realized that I had a fair bit to say on the topic, and that I should be sharing it here. 

When I was younger, I was a workaholic.  I would work myself into fits of stress, which would lead to insomnia, which made the workload I was carrying even harder.  I had to consciously make a change.  Now, I can cope with school, work, and extra stresses with relative ease.  How?  I always make time for the following things, no matter how busy I am, just to ensure I stay healthy and happy.  Then, because I am in this positive state of mind, everything else just seems to fall into place much easier.  It’s a matter of making some of these things priorities, which may be difficult to wrap your brain around at first with school or work staring you in the face, but it really helps.  Here are the things I make time for.

1.) Meditative tasks such as cooking meals, art or gardening-  They are simple, basic things that I enjoy, that I can absorb myself in, and that I can do by myself when I want to be alone.  Taking the time to cook a decent meal is also ensures you’re getting decent nutrition.  Always, always, always take the time to make breakfast; trust me, the rest of your day will go easier if you do.  Art is a passion of mine, and I find nothing more relaxing than coming home after a difficult day at work and painting a picture of the sky above me, just for the sake of painting.  Gardening is just another really peaceful activity that I have loved all my life.  I have a herb garden I take care of every summer.  Find yourself a healthy meditative task.

2.) Going to the gym/physical activity- I actually started paying more attention to this aspect of my life during my first semester of university.  On top of adjusting to the new schooling system, I was under severe stress for other personal reasons.  However, I noticed that going to the gym helped me cope.  It made me feel up to tackling the day, and helped me sleep more soundly at night.  This was something I used to cut from my schedule during exam or essay time, however, I realized during this particular semester that those were the times I needed this stress-releasing activity the most.  So I made it a priority.  I found my grades didn’t suffer at all from setting aside a few trips to the gym a week.  When I really, really needed to, I would also multitask by studying at the gym.  However, if you need the time to let your brain unwind, don’t bring your books with you.  Gage your need to multitask.

3.) Sleep- Sleep eight hours, every night, no exceptions.  As I mentioned before, I had difficulties sleeping in the past.  However, I’m proud to say, that’s in the past now, which was a big accomplishment for me.  It’s very common for students to short themselves sleep.  However, ask yourself, do you really do any work worth handing in when you’re always overtired?  Make sleep a greater priority than homework the majority of the time.  If you do this, then you’ll be able to handle staying up late and finishing projects for one or two nights when you really, really need to.  However, I would really recommend avoiding this as much as possible.

4.) Visiting with friends- That’s right, make your friends a priority over school work at times.  The people around you are part of what makes life a wonderful experience, and you will regret it down the road if you miss out on this element of life.  Now, by this I don’t mean spend all of your time fooling around with friends.  Just make sure you are seeing the people you enjoy being around from time to time.  Something I often do when writing a paper or studying is plan an hour coffee break in the middle where I meet a friend at my favourite coffee shop.  We just have a short chat, and I feel relaxed, at peace, and ready to tackle my work again.  It stops me from feeling resentful towards my school work for locking me away from the rest of the world.  It stops me from becoming anti-social (a quality unfitting to a future school teacher).  The trick is being able to have some self-discipline concerining how much time you spend out when you have other things on your plate.

I hope these tips help a few people out there.  The trick to making these things work for you is learning to put some dedication into them.  Like I said earlier, make these things priorities.I also wanted to record them to share with the students I teach in the future.  I think a good teacher should help students achieve balance in their lives, and that this will bring far greater accomplishments from them than stressing them out ever will.  For more tips specifically related to studying, check out this post on Swan200t’s blog.

Image courtesy of tati.ana on Flickr.

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2 responses

  1. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR

    Work stress takes a much larger toll on our health than we care to admit. For a handful of money, we give the corporations our health and years off of our lives. The current crisis with gasoline prices simply compounds the problems of the working American. And with oil predicted to reach $200 a barrel, it will only get worse, which is why the major corporations should begin to address the impact this is having on its workforce. Creative solutions or less profit taking could be in order. In my management book, Wingtips with Spurs, I devote an entire section to the effects of stress on our mental and physical health. Not from a medical point of view but rather from the view of a human resources professional of 30 years. Stress kills and will keep killing as long as we refuse to learn the coping tools. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR http://www.michaellgooch.com

    May 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  2. lindsaypolowich

    Very professionally analyzed post Nicole! It is good advice for many people out there. In defense of my blog; however, it was written on a day when everything was crashing. I do have good balance of study/work/socializing, etc. however, at the time I felt like everything was so…overrated. I was just wondering why i do certain things and why I wory about things and whether I do them for myself or for…something else, what standards am i trying to live up to? I do have time to myself to do the things I love. It was a blog, but also a story. i do not actually feel this way all the time, although sometimes I do. and I guess the way of coping with it was a blog. I was focusing on the bad, i guess. I did not mention that I do love being busy and involved and just being a well-rounded person. I suppose, that day, was an off-day. Thanks for reading!

    May 28, 2008 at 7:47 pm

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