Mental Health Month | Blog #4
Read the fourth Blog for MHM by your VPW! Let's talk about stress, baby.
Let's talk about stress, baby.
Ok, this is one we can all relate to. Feelings of STRESS. Now not all stress is bad, but long term chronic stress can be really harmful to your health (see: digestive symptoms, headaches, sleeplessness, anger… need I go on). Some people are better at handling stress than others, which is called ‘resilience’. Stress is a completely normal part of life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to manage it for our own wellbeing, as well as others.
So let’s cut to the chase. What are the counselling teams’ top tips for managing stress?
Be observant. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy. (Top tip from Paige: When you notice yourself feeling stressed, take action to try and relieve it.)
Talk to your health care provider or a health professional. Don’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your stress. Start the conversation and get proper health care for existing or new health problems. Effective treatments can help if your stress is affecting your relationships or ability to work.
Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health. (Top tip from Paige: If you hate the gym like me – find a form of exercise that brings you joy so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Swimming, dancing, and aerial fitness are all so fun I forget I am even working out!).
Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities. Different things might relax different people, so it is important to find out what works for you. This might be: writing all of your feelings down, talking them out, exercising, praying, gaming, whatever!
Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much (this is SO hard to do, but once you crack it you will feel so powerful. Productivity culture is extremely toxic). Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do – a gratitude journal is a great way to do that.
Stay connected. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations. You have no idea how much good talking can do.
Stress is not going to go away, and it certainly can’t be permanently removed from your life. What we need to remember is that stress should only be temporary, and that we are all totally capable of managing it. My favourite thing to remember when I am stressed is as follows: there has almost definitely been someone in my position before, and they absolutely got through to the other side (*clears throat*...Thousands of students do exams every year and they are ABOLUTELY FINE). If they can do it, so can you.
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