By Heather Braddock, Guest Author
This is the point in the semester when we often see a rise in stress, anxiety, and depression. The newness of being back at school has worn off and tests and projects have begun. For this semester, not only are we dealing with normal semester stress, we are experiencing anxiety at an extremely high rate due to navigating life during a pandemic. As your students become stressed, sick, or quarantined, your anxiety is naturally on the rise. It is in times like these that I often refer to the Serenity Prayer, often attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The best thing you can do for your mental health right now is to manage your stress as it comes and before it reaches its’ threshold. When I speak in classes and see students in my office, I often hand them stress management tips, provided by TherapistAid.com. I’ve included seven of those tips here, I hope you find them helpful.
1. Keep in Mind That Stress Isn’t Always a Bad Thing
Stress motivates us to work toward solving our problems. Reframing thoughts to view stress as an acceptable emotion, or as a tool, has been found to reduce many of the negative symptoms associated with it. The goal is to manage stress, not to eliminate it.
2. Talk About Your Problems, Even if They Won’t be Solved
Talking about your stressors- even if you don’t solve them- releases hormones in your body that reduce the negative feelings associated with stress. Time spent talking with friends and loved ones is valuable, even when you have a lot on your plate.
3. Prioritize Your Responsibilities
Focus on completing quick tasks first. Having too many “to-dos” can be stressful, even if none of them are very big. Quickly knocking out the small tasks will clear up your mind to focus on larger responsibilities.
4. Focus on the Basics
Stress can start a harmful cycle where basic needs are neglected, which leads to more stress. Make a point to focus on your basic needs, such as eating well, keeping a healthy sleep schedule, exercising, and other forms of self-care.
5. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
People who are over involved in one aspect of their life often struggle to deal with stress when that area is threatened. Balance your time and energy between several areas, such as your career, family, friendships, and personal hobbies.
6. Set Aside Time for Yourself
Personal time usually gets moved to the bottom of the list when things get hectic. However, when personal time is neglected, everything else tends to suffer. Set aside time to relax and have fun every day, without interruptions.
7. Keep Things in Perspective
In the heat of the moment, little problems can feel bigger than they are. Take a step back, and think about how important your stressors are in a broader context. Will they matter in a week? In a year? Writing about your stressors will you develop a healthier perspective.
Heather Braddock is a licensed professional counselor with a mental health service provider designation at the King University Counseling Center. Heather works with individuals, couples, and groups to help find hope and healing. She believes change is always possible and her goal is to help individuals develop the tools necessary for effective change by identifying and building personal strengths within the individual. Heather offers a compassionate, non-judgmental approach to therapy.