Coping with the “S” word //
Guest Elena Luna gives us 4 methods that helped her deal with and get over stressful moments.
It’s something that’s been written about a thousand times over. And rightly so, for it is something that we all go through in our lives. Stress.
And coupled with stress is often anxiety, worry, panic, sadness and eventually one too many glasses of red.
Having recently completed two bachelor degrees in the space of 5 years, I went through my fair share of stress induced panic attacks and sleepless nights. But this also forced my mind into defence mode which meant I quickly developed coping mechanisms to get me through the eight exams I had every year. I started to think about these strategies and managed to break them down into 4 key methods of dealing with stress.
Even for tasks that you have already completed. For example, if I had 3 papers, an online quiz and a chapter to complete by the end of the week, I would make a list of them all and include the activities I had already completed. This meant that once the list was complete, I could cross off what I had already done. This was both satisfying and relief inducing because it made me feel like I had done more than what I had planned. It then motivated me to continue crossing items off by getting them done.
And I don’t mean try to finish everything as quickly as you can. Your brain can only focus for so long on one task. For the most efficient way to work I would set a 15 minute timer on my phone and read or write for that long. When the alarm went off I would take 3 minutes to get up, have a stretch, drink water and take a step back. When I returned my desk I was more willing to start working again.
I’m a big music fan. It’s the thing that motivates my early mornings and perks me up on bad days. Music also helped me to overcome stress. When I had a bad day at work or university I would put my headphones on and listen to whatever my mood aligned with. To shake off the adrenaline, a good punk tune is always best. For having a good cry after a bad result, maybe some Adele. Or for those days when you just can’t function, a sweet pop melody can lighten the day. Whatever your tastes are, don’t disregard the power music can have over the mind.
Talk to yourself
You’re not crazy if you do this. At least that’s what I tell myself! When my stress levels would skyrocket, especially during exam time, I would often try to remove myself mentally from the situation. To do this I would pretend I was being interviewed and I would talk aloud to myself about why I was feeling stressed, what caused me to feel this way, and how I can make it better. By talking openly, freely and to no one in particular, it helped me compartmentalise all the twists and knots my mind was forming and turn them into something legible and manageable.
These 4 tiny strategies, although simple, helped me push through the days where all I wanted to do was run away and hide. I still use them now even after I’ve finished studying. Stress is inevitable, but we can at least manage it, work with it, learn from it, and eventually let it go.