You really can reduce your stress
Stress causes physical problems in addition to reducing your ability to learn. But, by using a very basic system, you might be able to completely conquer the problems causing your stress. It will, of course, require a great deal of effort.
First, Make sure there’s no related health problem.
See a doctor. Tell him about your symptoms. The tightness in your chest, the rapid heartbeat, the acid stomach can all be signs of physical problems that can be treated.
Less than a year ago I woke up in the middle of the night with an extremely strong feeling of anxiety. If I had been worrying about finances or health problems, or one of my children, I would have assumed these were the cause. I saw the doctor and tests showed that my heart was fine.
Finally some tiny pills, beta blockers, solved the problem. After a few weeks, when I stopped taking the pills, the symptoms did not return. I was lucky. These could have been early signs of heart problems..
Define what is causing your stress.
You will find it helpful to do this self-examination using a notebook, particularly is there are several or many causes for your stress.
Dahlia was a person who needed help. She was very nervous and self-conscious. She has difficulty speaking up in class. She was terrified of being asked a question in class. She even had difficulty speaking to other students. She spent her first year of college taking classes online but she needs courses that can only be taken on campus. For years she told people she was painfully shy.
The psychiatrist helped her discover that she had stuttered as a young child. A speech therapist had help her lose the stutter. Her older brothers thought it was funny. Even after she no longer stuttered, they laughed at her and imitated her stutter.
With this knowledge, Dahlia was able to work with the psychiatrist to build her confidence until she was able to speak with friends and participate in class discussions.
Five steps to conquer your stress
After you have identified the cause or causes of your stress, you can develop and carry out a plan. You might be able to do this by yourself or with help from an understanding friend. You might ask a school counselor for help.
1. Set clearly defined goals.
Dahlia’s goals were to increase confidence, be able to speak more freely with friends, be able to begin conversations with strangers who might become friends, to answer questions and participate in class discussions, and eventually be confident enough to take a class in public speaking.
Your goals may be much easier. They might include:
- Improve grades in one or many classes.
- Learn time management so you get assignments done on time.
- Find new friends who don’ expect you to party and drink too much.
- Accept the fact that you have no control over the lives of friends and family like a sick grandmother or your brother fighting in Afghanistan. (You can show your concern with frequent letters, phone calls, email, Skype, and sending photos or small gifts.)
- Accept the broken relationship and make new friends.
- Set more realistic goals for yourself. Aim for a B average or take fewer classes to reduce your stress.
2. Consider your goals and plan strategies to help you reach them.
Some strategies I have already mentioned.
To improve grades, for example, you might use this website or a book to improve your reading skills. You might work with tutors in a writing center to improve writing skills. You can learn and apply time management skills. You can find help on this website under Effective Study Methods
If you are pregnant or have other difficult decisions to make, you can find help on this website under Personal Decisions or talk to a counselor. The act of making a decision relieves stress. Your plan should include when and how you will discuss this with your parents.
If you are failing all your classes, create a plan before breaking the news to your parents. You have many possibilities.
You might decide to work for a few years and then return to school. You might decide to apply to the local community college where there are not so many distractions. You might decide that college wasn’t the best choice for you and research the possibilities in a vocational school. You might choose to join the military. Once you have a positive plan, decide if it is best to break the news to your parents in person, on the phone, or by mail. You could email the news first – focusing on your change of plans, not on failure, and promise to come home in a week or two to discuss it further.
If your family is experiencing financial problems you could get a work-study job and work during the summers. You can find many ways to save money. You can research and apply for many scholarships. You can consider getting loans to finish your education, especially if you expect to get a job that will provide a good salary so you ca repay the loan fairly quickly. You ca usually get help in your financial aid office.
3. A proper strategy must include a timeline.
Write on a calendar when you will begin each strategy. The more detailed your strategies, the more successful you will be.
4. In addition to creating and carrying out a clear plan, practice relaxation techniques.
You should find this page helpful: Relaxation
5. Focus on healthy living. Make a decision to eat moderate amounts of healthy food. Make a decision to get regular exercise. Get plenty of sleep. Reduce smoking or try to quit. Avoid places where smokers hang out. Avoid all alcohol and drugs. You already know that these only make the problems worse.
I recently discovered a new book by Dr. John Ratey In his book, Spark, he describes many situations where people who are under a good deal of stress or are experiencing anxiety begin regular exercise and are surprised at the improvement. The more vigorous the exercise, the more helpful it seems to be.
He suggests running a longer distance several days a week and running a shorter distance but sprinting, pushing your self to go as fast as you can on other days. Many added strength training, working out with weights.
One woman found relief with jumping rope. She had jump ropes in each room of her house so as soon as she began feeling stress, she could begin jumping
Exercise will not only help control your anxiety. It will give you pride in how you are taking charge of your life.
If you are dealing with serious stress or anxiety, I would put exercise at the top of the list. Unless you are accustomed to running or jogging, I would not suggest you begin with those. Start with brisk walking. If that doesn’t help, begin to jog slowly and gradually increase your distance and your speed. If you feel comfortable stepping up to running, I’d suggest running for brief periods and jogging the rest of the way. Slowly work yourself up to running. By this time, you should certainly know if exercise is helpful for you.
You can certainly use other kinds of exercise and it is helpful to add strength training and stretching to your schedule. I recently experienced a few weeks of unexplained minor anxiety. I increased my exercise level and the problem disappeared. A single event really doesn’t prove anything,but it did increase my belief that exercise is effective.
I finish with this photograph because it show a young man who appears to have walked a long distance through the darkness. He may have considered giving up, but he was strong and continued to fight his problems and fears.
Now, finally, he has arrived at the end of the tunnel. He raises his arms to greet the light. He has fought a battles with his fears and he has won. His future lies ahead of him. His future is bright.
If you need or want to read more on this topic, I recommend these websites. I think you will find them extremely helpful. The following links will take you to the same website but directly to the relevant sections.
For extra help on dealing with Anxiety, go to www.helpguide.org
For dealing with Stress, go to www.helpguide.org
For dealing with Depression, go to www.helpguide.org
For dealing with Trauma and Abuse including Domestic Violence and PTSD see www.helpguide.org
From any of the helpguide links you can find additional helpful pagesI think you’ll find it very helpful
Another excellent website is ULifeline. There you will find polls, students’ own stories, and articles related to topics including Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Self-harming, Bi-polar, Sleep Disorders, Suicide and more. And, if you have friends who would find this information helpful, please pass this information along to them. http://ulifeline.org/main/page/200/GetTheFacts