Most of us will know the feeling of struggling to cope with the demands of everyday life, an important or distressing event or a big change in our life. We worry, get irritable with other people and just can’t relax. “Stress” is the way that our bodies and minds react when this is happening. It includes emotional feelings, physical symptoms and changes in how our bodies work. Feeling Stressed-No Thanks!
Feeling Stressed-No Thanks!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, you are not alone; it’s practically a fact of life on college campuses. A poll conducted by mtvU and the Associated Press in the spring of 2009 reported that 85% of students say they experience stress on a daily basis.
What causes stress?
Big life changes often create stress, even happy events like having a baby or planning a wedding. Feeling like you aren’t in control of events in your life – for example, if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness or you get made redundant – can also cause stress.
It’s important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can. Avoiding problems rather than facing them can make things worse. But it’s not always possible to change a stressful situation. You may need to accept there’s nothing you can do about it and refocus your energies elsewhere.
For example, if you’re a carer, find ways to take breaks and do the things you enjoy.
“Fight or flight” response
Sometimes when you get suddenly stressed or anxious, you may notice how your body is working. You breathe fast , notice that your heart is racing, your mouth is dry and your palms are sweaty. These seem to be part of a “fight or flight” response that is “built in” and which helps us to cope with dangerous situations.
They are produced by stress hormones hat the body releases when we feel threatened. This can become a problem if it happens too much, too often or when you are not actually under threat. Other people may notice that you are stressed before you do.
Talk to friends or family about how you are feeling!
This can be very helpful, although it can be difficult to do. You may find that stress affects how you get on with other people, so it’s important for your family and friends to know what you are going through. They may also be able to make allowances for you or give you help and support.
Get support, whether from family, friends, your academic advisor, campus counseling center, or a trusted online community. A heart-to-heart talk with someone you trust can help you get rid of toxic feelings and may even give you a fresh perspective.
How much stress is too much?
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is “too much” differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
If you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or troubled, you’re more likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
How does my body act when stressed?
Your body has a built-in response to stressors. Your palms may sweat, your mouth may get dry, and your stomach may twist. This is all normal! Of course, stress doesn’t feel very good. When your body is hit by stress, try to calm it down. Taking some deep breaths can help. You also can try yoga, going for a walk, or some other physical activity.
Stress that’s too much for you to handle may play a role in some serious problems. These problems include eating disorders, hurting yourself, depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, and even suicide. If you are facing any of these problems, talk to an adult you trust right away!
Take a moment to look at what exactly is stressful for you
This might be a difficult boss, a misbehaving child, having too much to do, feeling overwhelmed by chores and time pressure, fear of failure, worry about finances, health challenges, relationship issues…the list goes on and on. Write down the stressors in your life.
If you are overwhelmed with too much to do, list everything that’s on your plate. Cross off anything that simply doesn’t really need to be done right now. Put an asterisk by everything that someone else besides you could do and delegate everything possible. Now prioritize what is left by numbering the items. Then learn to say ‘no’ so you don’t keep recreating this same stressful situation of being overextended.