Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How can I cope with stress?

There are many ways to reduce unwanted stress or manage it productively including:

Managing your physical and psychological well being

* Have a positive attitude! Reversing negative ideas and learning to focus on positive outcomes helps reduce tension and achieve goals. If you catch yourself thinking negative criticisms like -"I'll never get this assignment done! I'm a failure!" -change your inner dialogged. Tell yourself "I'm intelligent and fully capable of getting this assignment done. I will schedule more time tomorrow to work on the assignment and complete it."
* If you've had a serious illness or have had an emergency to respond to, remember that you can get an extension on a paper or other project. Don't be afraid to ask -- your professors and advisor's are there to support you.
* Tap into your support network. It can be a relief to realize others have had similar experiences - it helps us feel understood, capable, and nurtured. Friends, family, adult mentors (supervisors or professors), and Brown support providers (first-year unit counselors, faculty advisors or favorite instructors, chaplains, deans from the Dean of the College or the Student Life Office, staff from Psychological Services) are all good sources of emotional support. Sometimes just expressing our feelings, or venting, helps lower our stress.Perhaps you will advise any health drugs from stress.
* If you can't discuss your feelings with your support network, express them some other way - write in a journal, write a poem, or compose a letter that is never mailed.

Monitoring your stress levels
A helpful way of monitoring your stress level and identifying sources of stress is to keep a daily stress log. Note activities that put a strain on energy and time, trigger anger or anxiety, or precipitate a negative physical response. Also note your reactions to these stressful events. Review the log and identify 2 or 3 stressful events or activities that you can modify or eliminate.

Avoiding extremely stressful situations

* Stress results when you feel overwhelmed by many things that need to be done at the same time. Plan around the things you find stressful to lessen the effects of stress. Managing your time effectively will even out your workload.
* When working, focus on one thing at a time. Switching from one task to another without fully completing the first task allows for variety, but usually wastes time and causes confusion. Make a list and prioritize the things you need to get done. Start a new homework assignment only after you've completed an earlier assignment.
* Don't be afraid to take a break when you are studying or writing a paper. Schedule it in! A 20-minute power nap can re-energize you for hours.
* Know and accept your limits. Don't over-commit - learn to say no. If you really don't want to go to a performance Friday night with your roommate don't be afraid to say you're not interested this time. It is better to disappoint a person up front than with a last minute cancellation because you find yourself short of time.

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