It’s That Time of Year Again! Don’t Let Stress Get You Down

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

It’s almost the end of the semester and finals are just around the corner. If you have not yet learned to manage your stress, now would be a fine time to tackle that challenge. When you learn to manage your stress, you’ll feel more comfortable with the work that lies ahead of you. When dealing with stress, the critical issue to look at is do you manage your emotions or do they manage you?

First lets define stress- The American Medical Association defines stress as: “Any interference that disturbs a person’s mental or physical well-being.” Physiologically stress releases chemicals called cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) which increases heart rate, metabolism, breathing, muscle tension, and blood pressure. Some people know this as the “Fight or Flight” response.Too much stress in your life can inhibit digestion, growth, tissue repair, and the response of your immune and inflammatory systems. In fact, recent studies show that people with high stress are twice as likely to develop colds as those with low-stress.

The EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF STRESS include:

  • Anger
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Powerlessness
  • Feeling of total overwhelm

No wonder this time of year can seem so daunting for students. Some students may feel so overwhelmed that they forget they can create positive experiences. It becomes easy to give in to their body’s lack of energy, fatigue, and loss of will. Taking positive action does help!

Did you know that you have the power to CHOOSE NEW BEHAVIORS?

  • Separate from an external stressor
  • Journal your feelings
  • Keep your notebooks organized
  • Say “no” – Understand your boundaries!
  • Relax
  • Breathe deeply
  • Do something (anything!) towards your goals
  • Exercise
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Laugh

All of these activities help to produce natural mood elevating hormones. They can also help you gain a healthy perspective on your reality.

Did you also know you can CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHT PATTERNS?

  • Visualize problems and troubles shrinking them to a manageable size
  • Challenge pessimistic beliefs
  • Focus on the positive
  • Find the opportunity in the problem
  • Elevate – Will this matter one year from now?
  • Trust a positive outcome
  • Reframe
  • Visualize success with safety
  • Assume the best
  • Face the fear
  • As with all distressing emotions changing your thoughts can change your response. If you create positive energy for yourself when faced with the challenge of stress you can begin to scale back the negativity.

    Maybe you waited till the last minute to print your essay for class and the printer broke down, or maybe you are two chapters behind with a huge test looming ahead. Don’t panic- learn the lesson and move ahead. Identify what caused the problems (i.e. lack of time management, procrastination) and address them. The potential for stress during your college years is inevitable, but the wear and tear of stress places a heavy tax on your mental as well a physical health. Most importantly, as you begin to study for finals, keep in mind that stress has a negative impact on memory. It also hinders creativity, concentration, and attention to details.

    When you are feeling stressed you cannot do your best academic work!
    So what are your choices? You can seek instant gratification in the form of television, alcohol, food, shopping, smoking or a myriad of other unhealthy stress reduction “solutions.” Or you can find a better way to manage stress such as the ones mentioned above. Work to recognize your stressors and make choices to release them, not just cover them up. If you find yourself highly stressed and in need of professional help then consider making an appointment at The Counseling Center. Remember that many of your peers are most likely feeling the same way. It is part of the human experience to feel anxiety and stress. It is the way in which you choose to deal with these feelings that will make all the difference. Learn to manage your stress before it manages you!

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