Stress is part of normal life; we all experience it from time to time. Sometimes, stress can even help a person be more productive when meeting deadlines and reaching goals. However, some people suffer from stress which is so frequent or severe that it can significantly impact their quality of life.
Some people are aware of what triggers their stress, and this allows them to either prevent stress or to handle it more effectively. Others may experience more difficulty coping with stress depending on the severity and number of stressors present. Identifying stressors is a key step in managing your stress, so if you often experience stress, take some time to consider what tends to set it off for you. Stress can come from a huge range of sources (stressors), such as:
- Relationships with others
- Work-related issues
- Study demands
- Coping with illness
- Life changes, such as marriage, retirement, divorce
- Day-to-day activities and tasks
- Positive events, such as organizing holidays or parties
- Juggling multiple roles or tasks at the same time
Stress is a normal part of life and sources of stress are often out of our control. Is all stress bad? No. It’s important to understand that there are two types of stress: good and bad. Good stress can actually inspire you to achieve a goal, become more confident or stronger physically, if approached in a sensible manner. A reasonable goal in a reasonable period of time will bring on achievement with little or no stress involved. Bad stress is the repeated act of ignoring symptoms of stress that can cause harm to your physical and mental states.
Stress is GOOD when it:
- Is a powerful driving force behind actions
- Increases motivation
- Improves perception of happiness
- Improves relationships
Stress is BAD when it:
- Decreases immune system strength
- Decreases emotional regulation
- Decreased satisfaction of life
- Increases likelihood of disease and death
There is both good and bad stress in all walks of life. How one achieves and moves forward without becoming physically or mentally impaired is determined by how one approaches each stressful situation.
Symptoms of Stress:
- Irritability or moodiness
- Interrupted sleep
- Frequent headaches, minor to migraine
- Upset stomach
- Increased blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Rashes or skin breakouts
- Chest pains
- More susceptible to cold/flu
Unmanaged, these symptoms reduce quality of life, and people suffering from stress may notice that work performance or relationships suffer more as a result. The tips below can help manage your stress:
Stress Management Tips
- Identify your stressors – Identify the stressors in your life and focus on what you can improve.
- Exercise – Take time to work out. This will not only improve your overall health, but is also a great form of stress relief.
- Regular sleep – Stick to a regular sleep schedule every night to keep your body on schedule.
- Create a routine – If you get yourself in the habit of studying, working out, and sleeping at certain hours, it will be easier to fit in all the things you need to do in a day.
- Give yourself a break – Give yourself a chance to rest by taking a break. You can come back feeling more refreshed and ready to go.
- Utilize campus meditation and yoga programs – The TCU Rec Center is equipped with programs that can help students release stress; check out the classes they provide. Also, Religious and Spiritual Life offers meditation classes you can take part in.
- Relax with hobbies – Making time for the things you love is an important part of enjoying life and will help reduce stress.
- Get help – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out and ask for help from professors and friends. They may be able to give you needed advice or helping see certain problems in a more beneficial way.
Meditation and Relaxation
You can also combat stress by practicing meditation, relaxation, and deep breathing. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health.
- Meditation: Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, meditation allows you to focus your mind in the present, enabling you to clear your mind and alleviate stress.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. This can help you react to the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind.
- Deep breathing: With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check.