Five Stress Management Techniques

Returning to university for the second semester can be a daunting and slightly terrifying prospect. Most students get the opportunity to have a break from university without huge amounts of work over the Christmas holidays. However, many of us found ourselves continuing to work towards essay deadlines and exams during the holidays, meaning we are now starting the new term a bit on the back foot. Diving straight back into the second term of university can be full of stresses and frustrations as it can feel to us that the year is flying by, so here are a few techniques which can help with stress management during this particularly difficult term:

1. List making

List making is an important part of any organization or stress management technique. I find the writing of them helps me to visualize all the tasks I have to do throughout the day or week, and it helps add structure to my life. Lists help me to evaluate how much I have to do and are amazingly useful for helping with time management.

I am a lover of pretty stationary and have many different list-making notepads, all of which gives me a slight thrill when planning out my work. Although the thought of writing down on paper and seeing all the tasks you have to do in a concrete way may be a daunting one, I find that the visualization helps me put my various stresses and frustrations into context and get more organized as a whole. 

2. Exercise

To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde:  “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”. Doing any form of exercise is great for your physical health, but it can also be good for focus and concentration. Exercise gives me something else to focus on besides my stresses, as it is impossible to think about much else when you feel your muscles working! I am definitely not one of those people who loves going to the gym, but I always find that my mood has improved after I have done some exercise!

At university, I am involved in our Cheerleading Society, and I find this the perfect way to improve a bad day and to help me forget my stresses. Getting to spend several hours a week working out with a group of my friends is great fun and a perfect distraction from life and university work. Although cheerleading works for me, I know that group sports are not for everyone. Some people reap the same benefits from attending the gym, or even just taking a walk and getting some fresh air.

3.  Listen to music

Before I begin any kind of work for my course or work on any other tasks, I have to find the right backing music. Some people have a specific song, genre, or playlist that they turn to in times of stress, but personally, mine varies depending on the kind of day it is and what mood I'm in. I have several different playlists on Spotify which I use to assist me with my work, and I rely a lot on music when working to help manage my stress levels. I make a lot of my own playlists, but some of Spotify’s own ones are also great to relieve your stress while working - one example being the Get Home Happy playlist, featuring a variety of popular songs to brighten up your workday, and get rid of all your stresses for a little while.

Also, singing along to good music or my favorite song allows me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do. Whether you have a good singing voice or not, give yourself the opportunity to set yourself free while working, and you won't regret it. I find that allowing myself little breaks to get up and move while in the library is really useful to keep on top of everything, as is simply dancing around to music if I'm working at home. 

 4. Vent these frustrations to someone!

One big mistake to make when tackling stress is to ignore and repress it. This might seem like a normal reaction to some, but personally, I find that voicing my stresses helps me put them into perspective. It also helps me get out of my own head. I turn to friends and family in times of stress and worry, as talking about it is useful for coming up with a plan of action. But, even if conversing about your stress doesn’t help you find a solution or a cure, it is good to know that someone else is aware of how you are feeling and what you are experiencing, regardless of whether they can help you or not.

Having someone else understand your situation can also give you the opportunity to get another opinion on how you are tackling your worries. However, I am aware that some people are not comfortable talking about certain stressful aspects of their lives. If this is the case, another way of venting your various frustrations is to write everything down, or you can even vocalize them to yourself in a private setting. Finding any way to get your stress out of your head is always useful and can make everything seem a little less scary.

 5. Take a break

Knowing when to give yourself a break from your work is crucial when it comes to managing your stress. It is important to avoid your stresses becoming an all-consuming force in your life and work. Everyone has their own methods of letting loose, and I am going to outline a few of my favourites here, in the hopes that they will help you to relax as well.

Netflix has become a life saver for me; I often have several different types of television shows on the go at once, as I watch different ones depending on my mood. Sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory and Friends are the perfect study break due to the short length of their episodes. Besides Netflix, I do give myself opportunities to keep up to date with shows currently airing, such as the new Will and Grace on Channel 5, which is a brilliantly series.

I am also a huge book lover. As a student of English Literature, it can prove challenging to find time to read for fun, without feeling guilty that I am neglecting my studies and coursework. However, when I find the right book, it is the perfect form of escapism from my day-to-day stresses, as I can easily get lost in the fictional world I am reading about.

Friends and family are an important part of my life, and I like to be active socially. Whether it's heading to a National Trust property for the day, taking a walk on the beach, a night in or going out on the town, spending time with those who care about you always helps to manage stress levels. Again, this assists in giving perspective to the level of stress you are experiencing, and so I find myself agreeing  with the motto of "work hard, play hard", as doing something for yourself, with or without your friends, is a great reward for hard work and proves you managed to put all your stress to good use. 

While I don’t believe that life will ever be completely stress free - as it's a clearly unattainable goal - these techniques do help me manage the stresses that I face on a day-to-day basis. If you never have a bad day, how would you know when to appreciate the good ones? Life must be balanced, and hopefully these tips will assist you in establishing your own balanced way of life and managing your work.