It’s a really stressful time in the world. Go on any news outlet, online or print, and you can see that everywhere in the world, there are political, economic, social, and cultural happenings that can cause stress. The world is stressed, and maybe you are too, either from the news or from something in your personal life.
It’s a fact of life that everyone feels some sort of stress, but we might not all have the same stressors or feel stress the same way. My personal stressors, which are causes of stress, are school (thank you, midterms) and finances. You can find a list of common stressors and identify which ones affect your life the most here. Physically, my stress comes in the forms of sweating, stomach pain, and hives (attractive, I know) and mentally, when I’m stressed I socially withdraw. There are several other physical and mental symptoms of stress, which you can view here.
So yes, everyone feels stress in their lives. But how can we deal with it? Luckily, there are specific coping strategies that can help you keep moving through the path of life.
But what exactly is stress? Dictionary.com defines it as: A physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.
While a strain or tension seems like a bad thing, not all stress is bad! Eustress is beneficial stress, since it is short term and tends to motivate us to perform better. Some examples of eustress are getting a raise at work, getting married, or having a child. Stressful situations, but really wonderful situations to be in. It’s distress that you have to watch out for, which is unpleasant and decreases performance.
Now that we know what stress is, we can focus on the co the coping strategies to combat it. The Center for Studies on Human Stress gives the definition of coping as the thoughts and actions we use to deal with a threatening situation. The CSHS gives some of the following strategies (read all of them by clicking the link):
Be positive! This is a huge one. With a negative outlook, there’s no way you can see yourself getting out of the stressful situation. View each stressor not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to learn and challenge yourself. Maybe, like me, midterms are really stressing you out. With my positive attitude, I can take this stressor and turn it into an opportunity to study hard to get that A.
Make the choice not to overreact. I am the worst at this. I tend to overreact and get overwhelmed when I get stressed (my friends call it the 24-Hour Sierra Freak Out Period). But it’s okay! Make sure you take a deep breath and carry on with what you’re doing. Don’t let your stress bog you down.
Communication is key. Social support can help! Communicating how you’re feeling makes you feel better, and could help those around you, well, help you. Talking about how you’re feeling gets your emotions out, avoiding an emotional explosion later on. Depending on who you talk to about your stress, they could help relieve it. Stressed about the deadline of a paper? Talk to your professor about your concerns and maybe she will give you an extension or offer some other help.
Deal effectively with mistakes and successes. Making a mistake is a common way to learn, so don’t stress over it or beat yourself up. Take a breath, think about what happened, and move on. Additionally, make sure you pat yourself of the back for your successes! By celebrating your success, you’re more confident in the future when you come across the same stressful situation.
Stress is just our body’s response to something in our environment, so make sure you listen to what your body needs. It’s a guarantee that you will feel it in your life, and sometimes you just need to take a breath. Let’s focus on the healthy ways to cope with stress, featured in this article, so we can continue taking on the world. Need some more positivity? Check out this other Metiza post!
Also published on Medium.