by Puja Sarkar, Press & Written Media Team
There are many moments in life when it is natural to feel overwhelmed. Going to college and living away from home for the first time, feeling under pressure during exam season, or trying to squeeze in time with friends are all moments when stress may sneak up on you and make you feel like you cannot keep up with all your commitments. As a result, even the easiest chores become the most demanding. One of the numerous challenges students face is dealing with the stress of academics and being responsible for themselves. While short-term stress can help improve grades or polish an essay, long-term stress, on the other hand, might have negative consequences if not treated. Stress has a negative impact on both emotional and physical wellbeing and living with high levels of stress might jeopardize overall health. It makes it difficult to think clearly, function properly and enjoy life. At times, it feels like there is little to be done to remedy these overwhelming and demanding situations and that there will never be enough hours during the day for academics, extracurricular activities and leisure.
It is in these stressful moments that we need to take a step back and recollect ourselves. Other than exercising, eating healthy and making time for self care, here are some techniques which could help manage and get ahead of stress:
The four As: Avoid, alter, accept, adapt
Avoiding what or who stresses you out is a good way to take control of stress. But to do that, learning to say ‘no’ and maintaining distance with the trigger is crucial. It might not always come easy, but establishing boundaries is a start.
If the situation or individual cannot be avoided, the next technique is to alter the situation by being assertive and communicating your concerns respectfully if something or someone is troubling you. For example, if you have an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, let them know right away that you would rather talk later. Without properly expressing your emotions, resentment will grow and stress levels are bound to escalate.
If the stressor cannot be avoided or changes, the next best thing is to change your perspective. Altering expectations to adapt to stressful events can help regain control. Perfectionism, for example, is a major source of unneeded stress. Setting acceptable goals for yourself and others would also help in learning to be okay with what actually happens.
Stress is unavoidable in some situations, like when you are sick. In these unchangeable and unavoidable circumstances, accepting things as they are is the ideal method to cope with stress. Acceptance may be challenging, but it is preferable to trying to change a situation you cannot influence.
Plan your day
Learning how to manage your time wisely to be more productive and prevent feeling overwhelmed is the key to time and stress management. In the long run, things appear to be easier and stress-free if you know how to manage your time effectively. Creating a schedule or planning out the entire day helps to make the day as productive as possible with time allocated for studying, social engagements and solitary pursuits, daily chores and recreation.
Working or studying at a stretch for hours can get tiresome and stressful. There are various time management tactics that help retain focus without feeling overwhelmed. For example, the Pomodoro Technique, which divides tasks into timed intervals separated by short breaks, is an effectively proven method to ensure enough breaks to stay focused on the goal.
Focus on one thing at a time
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking increases stress and consequently, decreases productivity. Trying to focus on multiple tasks at once causes strain on the brain. Our brain is wired to focus on a single job at a time and accordingly, it takes longer to complete tasks due to the increased pressure of transitioning from one activity to another. This produces stress and the same tasks now take longer to complete than they did previously.
Setting too many goals at once and attempting to accomplish all of them causes more harm than good. Instead, making a list of things that need to be done throughout the day and concentrating on one task at a time is bound to create a more stable and organized work environment.
Organize your space
Clutter in the workspace is likely to add more stress as it is a reminder of more things to do. Even if you can keep yourself from procrastinating, a messy workspace can reduce productivity and make study sessions more stressful, especially when you cannot find what you are looking for. Organizing the workspace beforehand not only creates a good environment to get some work done, but also mentally prepares you to begin the work.
Stress management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to experiment with these techniques and assess which works the best. Effective stress management allows you to free yourself from the grasp that stress has on your life, allowing you to be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is to live a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun along with the resilience to keep going when things get tough. While managing time and taking proactive steps to avoid being overworked won’t totally eliminate the strain, they would help avoid feeling overwhelmed.
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