The following are some methods I’ve found helpful for relieving my own stress. Since everyone is different, they may not all work for you, and that’s okay—but give ‘em a try.
Break Things into Steps
When a stressful event appears on my horizon I find it helpful to, if possible, break it into steps. I find this especially helpful for social events. Instead of concentrating on all the things I need to do to prepare, which can be overwhelming, I dissect it. On the day of the event, say, I would tell myself that all I need to do is to get out of the house by a certain time, and try to prevent myself thinking too far into the future. Once I’ve completed that step, I have another one ready to go. Breaking things into steps not only helps make something anxiety-inducing into something more manageable, but it helps you stay grounded in the present moment. A lot of stress is generated when we fret about the past or agonize over the future. I definitely do both, more than is perhaps healthy, but I find this method helps to avoid overthinking.
Schedule Your Time
This is a very similar method to the above, as by scheduling your time you enable concentration on the present. I find this helpful during that mad end-of-semester panic period, when I have a million assignments due and no idea which to tackle first. You don’t even need a proper, fancy agenda. Even just taking a scrap of paper and dividing my week into time slots, each devoted to a specific task, provides a measure of control over the chaos. It stops me worrying about the impossibility of finishing all my assignments, because I’ve outlined for myself a method of managing them.
Use the Squeaky Voice
It may sound weird, but repeating your worries to yourself in a squeaky voice can help make those worries feel less daunting. It also works for when you’re internally beating yourself up—if you repeat your own critical words to yourself out loud (or internally) in a weird, squeaky voice, it can help you feel more in control of your own thoughts.
Make Time for Humour
This is related to the above, as the squeaky voice allows you to see your troubles in a more humorous light. Laughter is proven to decrease stress, so making time for comedy can be incredibly good for your mental health. This can come in many forms—watching a funny TV show on Netflix, spending time with friends and family who make you laugh, or seeing the humour in your own situation (if possible).
A year ago, I never thought I’d ever be one to praise yoga, but I was wrong. Since I started practicing yoga, I’ve noticed a definite reduction in my stress levels. I attend an evening class once a week and I find that every time I go, freaking out about all my work, I come out wondering why I was so worried. Yoga makes my problems seem smaller, more manageable, and I feel much more relaxed after a class. Case in point: once on the way home from a yoga class on a dark night, a car roared around a corner on the wrong side of the road and nearly collided with my vehicle. Instead of experiencing the usual rush of adrenaline and pounding heart, I felt very calm (if rather annoyed).
If the idea of going to a yoga class stresses you out, try another activity that relaxes you, such as reading a book, or knitting.
This is a good one. If you’re tired, try to get some sleep. I know it’s difficult to make time for sleep, especially during final exam time, but you’re more use to world when you’re awake than when you’re functioning on an hour’s nap and triple shot espresso.
Remember: You’re Only Human
It’s always important to remember that you’re only human. You make mistakes, you miss deadlines—so what? We all do it.What we do when we’re stressed doesn’t necessarily define who we are. So cut yourself some slack and don’t beat yourself up if you fail. You’re a beautiful human being and that’s an amazing thing.
These methods typically work for stress that I am able to manage on my own, but our emotions exist on a spectrum. If your stress is something you are having difficulty managing alone, or if you feel you are otherwise in need of help, consider seeking professional help. VIU offers free counselling services to students. The Health & Wellness Centre is located in Building 200, on the third floor; their phone number is 250-740-6416. You can make an appointment in-person or over the phone.