Some stress is natural and inspires creativity, academic excellence and can even get you out of the way of oncoming traffic (flight or flight response). So, a manageable amount of stress is positive and keeps you safe and alert (i.e. 'good stress'). But that's not the kind of stress you're worried about, right? It's that overwhelming, out-of-control feeling: I don't know what to tackle first. Am I ever going to get this done? Am I doing it right? How am I going to pay for this? (i.e. 'bad stress').
Here are five tips to reap the benefits of good stress and shut down the bad stress:
- Focus on your well-being: Do things to take care of yourself. Instead of eating junk food or turning to other unhealthy outlets, set aside time to do something positive like taking a yoga class, hanging out with friends, watching something funny online. Give yourself a break. You may think it's cutting into your work time or study time, but in the long run you'll be better for it. Too much of any one thing can lead to burn out and bad decision-making. University of Toronto Mississauga campus has some great well-being tips.
- Work it out: Go to the gym, take a walk, do something active to readjust your outlook. Exercise can reduce stress. The Mayo Clinic even says so. The key ingredient? Endorphins. When you exercise, these neurotransmitters start pumping and you feel good. Sault College and Niagara College offers its students campus recreation tournaments, staff vs. students dodge ball (!!) and fitness classes.
- Meditate: The Lazy Yogi, a 25-year old student/yogi swears by the stuff. No matter what his readers ask, his answer always seems to go back to meditation. It's got him through the death of his dad, moving cities, starting a new school. (It's also got him a huge Tumblr following). Check out the Lazy Yogi's meditation instructions.
- Make a plan: If school work is overwhelming you, make a plan and get help. There are resources available on-campus and online – use them! Peer tutoring, study guides and writing labs can help reduce the stress of assignments and exams. See Fleming College's Learning Support Services, University of Toronto's Academic Success Centre and Trent University's Academic Skills Centre.
- Breathe! When you are stressed, your breathing tends to become quick and shallow – and can place even more stress on the body. Deep, focused breathing calms you down, heals the body and can change your life.