Whether they use the word or not, students are usually aware of stress in the daily course of academic pursuits. Some understand that stress is the response physically, emotionally, and mentally to unusual demands. Others believe the unusual demands on them are the stress.
Students can learn stress management techniques that will reduce stress, whether they have an understanding of it or not. The following 5 are basic.
Stress Management Techniques
1. Identify the enemy. Stress management eludes the person who does not take time to see what is causing the stress. Think through a “normal” happy day that contains little stress. A normal day for a student might involve getting up and going to school with nothing to break the routine. Hair falls into place. Make-up, if worn, applies quickly and satisfactorily. The student arrives on time, and studies are routine. There are no waves on the sea of interpersonal relationships.
If that is normal in your life, then announcement of a difficult assignment or exam with a rapidly approaching due date would be an “unusual” demand. Your response to that demand is your stress. An argument with a friend can be another cause of stress if your response is to worry or get angry. Physical education class may make unusual demands on your body, causing stress. Begin stress management by identifying the cause of your stress (stressor).
2. Re-color the enemy. Some stressors can be changed – dressed in brighter colors. For successful stress management, you need to determine whether the stressor you identified can be re-colored. If it can be, grab your crayons as part of your stress management.
For example, an argument with a friend can be re-colored. You can go to the friend and apologize for your feelings of anger (red), whether or not you were at fault. If you were at fault, take the blame. Then talk softly enough and long enough to smooth the troubled waters (blue).
A rapidly approaching assignment will bow to stress management if you decide to take it as a positive challenge (sunny yellow) rather than an unwanted demand (dark brown).
3. Cut exaggeration. Many times, the response to stressors is exaggerated. Good stress management cuts down the exaggeration. Look at the mathematics assignment as it really is. It will not kill you! By breaking it down into skills you already possess and those you are learning, you can apply stress management to mathematics assignments.
4. Breathe deeply. Many stress management classes stress this technique. A large part of stress is preparing to fight someone or something – or to flee. The body’s muscles tense. They need extra oxygen, but stress often makes you hold your breath or breathe shallowly. Stress management is often accomplished simply by breathing deeply and evenly.
5. Clench fists. You may have seen stress management balls or other rubber objects. They require that you clench and unclench your fingers. You don’t need an object to do this stress management technique, though. Simply clench your fists and then completely loosen them. Do this repeatedly and rhythmically for stress management.
The most effective stress management technique, but one that many people refuse or neglect, is prayer. Not everyone can use this stress management step, but those who can will benefit greatly as they commit their trouble to the Creator.