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Week 4: Stress Management

 

"It isn't stress that makes us fail, it's how we respond to stressful events"

-Wade Goodall

This week we will be learning ways to manage and cope with stress! Did you know that stress has been called the nation's number one health problem? It is estimated that 75-90% of all visits to physicians are due to stress-related problems (BACCHUS Network, 2011). College students often face additional academic, social, and financial stressors which affects their emotional and physical health.

 

Challenge #1

Try one of the following short-term techniques to help with your stress:

  1. Get away from it for a while-take a short break if you are feeling overwhelmed with the task or situation. This way you will come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to attack the problem. Do whatever works best for you. Examples: take a short walk, listen to your favorite song, call a friend, take a shower.
  2. Make a plan or list- usually when we feel overwhelmed it is because there seems to be so many things to do. So write them all down. Make a list of the tasks that have to be completed. From this list, make a realistic plan and prioritize your tasks.
  3. Ask for help- sometimes it helps to just talk to someone about feeling stressed. Remember, it is okay to ask for help and others are more than likely to want to help out!
  4. Practice relaxation techniques- slow, deep breathing will help you to relax by bringing your heart rates back to normal. You can try meditating or counting backwards or even visualize yourself accomplishing the task at hand.
  5. Breathe deep- taking a deep breath has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Studies suggest deep breathing can also cause a temporary drop in blood pressure.
  6. Exercise- a post-exercise endorphin rush is one way to sharply cut stress.

 

Of course, there are many other techniques so if none of these work for you, tell us what does!

 

Challenge #2

Figure out your relationship between sleep and stress. How much sleep does the average person need? The answer is enough to feel rested. The true average is eight hours but it really varies from person to person.

Try to incorporate 1 of the following sleeping tips and see if it helps you manage your stress.

  1. If possible, only use the bedroom for activities such as sleep, meditation, and sex. Avoid other activities, such as studying or eating in bed.
  2. If you tend to worry a lot, write your concerns on paper. Such a list can help prevent you from thinking about your problems again and again at night.
  3. Try waking up at roughly the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night. This helps your body establish a consistent sleep/wake cycle.
  4. Don’t try too hard to go to sleep! If you have been trying to sleep for 30 minutes or more and are still wide awake, do something else until you get tired. (ex: reading a boring book!)

 

 

References & Resources

Winner, J. (2008). Take the stress out of your life: A medical doctor's proven program to minimize stress and maximize health. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

The BACCHUS Network, A Student Guide to Life Management. "Managing and Coping with Stress," p. 62