Recognizing and Managing Stress

12. February 2017 Organization 0
Recognizing and Managing Stress

Recognizing and Managing Stress: Reactions to Stress

What are reactions to stress?

It is often more difficult to recognize the symptoms of stress than you might imagine. It may be that you have a cold that you just can’t seem to shake, feel an uncontrollable urge to spend money, or feel more irritable than is typical. You might just be tempted to overlook these warning signs, but learning to recognize how you react to stress is the first step in learning to manage it.
Emotional Reaction. Some people have an emotional reaction to stress. They may find it hard to think clearly or rationally when they are under a lot of stress. This feeling can lead to:

  • Loss of confidence
  • Fear of failure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Worry about all the things to be done
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Recognizing and Managing Stress: Additional Reactions to Stress

What are reactions to stress?

Behavioral Reaction. Some people show stress through a change in their normal behavior. They find that they are just “not acting like themselves.” This can lead to:

  • Acting impulsively
  • Talking too fast or too loud
  • Grinding teeth, fidgeting, nail biting, pacing
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Being irritable or aggressive
  • Overreacting to situations
  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Being more accident prone

Physical Reaction. Some people experience physical reactions to stress and many do not realize that these symptoms are stress related. These physical reactions are often a part of the “fight or flight” response, where adrenaline is released to cope with stress. That adrenaline, when not used to “fight” can lead to negative physical reactions such as:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomachaches
  • Susceptibility to illness
  • Frequent colds or respiratory infections
  • Nausea or “butterflies in the stomach”
  • Increased sweating
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Rapid breathing or heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation

Thinking about your own reactions to stress can help you focus on selecting management strategies that work for you.

Managing Stress Levels: Skills for Managing your Stress

How can I manage my stress?

As we have already mentioned, some stress is good. Without stress, our lives would be rather boring and uneventful. For example, feeling a bit of stress before a big exam is natural and it keeps you on your toes. However, there are times in every student’s life when stress can reach high levels. Many students feel overwhelmed around midterm and final exams. Family and relationship problems often make students stress out. That’s why it’s important that you manage your stress as soon as you feel it coming on.

Regular Exercise
Exercise is the best stress buster there is, and it doesn’t have to be especially rigorous. Exercise is not only good for you physically, but also mentally. It helps clear your mind and ready the brain for learning. The trick is to find the kind of exercise that works for you. Some people like to exercise alone by jogging or power walking. Others enjoy working out in groups, and take aerobics classes, shoot hoops, or play intramural sports. Getting out there three or four times a week can help you be healthier and wiser.

Break Tasks Down
Nothing can stress you out more than looking at all you have to do and thinking, “There is no way I can ever get all of this done in time.” Tasks can sometimes seem so overwhelming that it is difficult to know how to get started. This is especially true when you have a long-term project to complete. Under these circumstances, the least stressful approach is to break the job down into smaller, manageable parts. As you cross items off your list, you’ll see that you are making progress. This will help you complete the project on time without totally stressing out.

Managing Stress Levels: Additional Skills for Managing your Stress

How can I manage my stress?

Set Goals
In addition to breaking tasks down, you should also set goals for yourself. Give yourself a date when you will have smaller assignments done, or better yet, develop a long-term timeline and then stick with it. Unless you give yourself a specific time for completion, these types of goals tend to stay on your to-do list forever. It’s much better to prioritize by setting a completion date for your tasks; for example, “Complete psychology project by 4/30,” and “Complete research by 4/01.” Working toward dated goals helps reduce stress by letting you see light at the end of the tunnel, and also helps you feel good about yourself when you complete your goals on time.

Use your Social Network
Having a strong and supportive social network can also help keep stress levels within reason. Sometimes just talking with friends about what is stressing you out can help, especially when personal issues or problems cause the stress. However, a word of caution is in order here: If your problems go way beyond what your friends can help you with, please seek professional help. There are probably trained counselors available to you at your school that deal with these kinds of problems all the time. Friends can help with the little things, but if stress caused by personal issues is interfering with academics, seek help from a counselor.

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