Most of us come across the noun ‘stress’ during our school days in the physics classes. During that period we only understand the scientific or the technical meaning of stress. However, as we move forward in our academic life the other meanings associated with this word starts surfacing and poses a lot of roadblocks in our life’s journey. It is at that point when we start saying, “our lives have become very stressful”.
Stress implies the mental or physical response of a person to a particular situation. We often have a tendency to associate stress with negativity or pessimism. However, we should understand that a certain amount of stress is inevitable and useful for our academic lives.
As per experts in the field of psychology, there are two kinds of stresses- good stress or eustress and bad stress or distress. Research proves that a certain level of stress is required for achieving desired levels of success at work and study. But when it crosses the threshold limit then the performance of a person declines and the desired output is not achieved.This threshold level varies with individuals.
As students, certain signs can help you realize that you are entering the threshold limit
- You are unable to study further
- Simple concepts start taking a long time to understand
- You start multitasking and achieve no results
- You start taking frequent breaks from your study
- You try to relax but cannot
- You start procrastination
Students can stay away from reaching the threshold limit by learning to manage stress and by keeping it under their control.
Below are five effective ways of managing stress.
- Maintain the Right Balance
In football, the average distance run by a striker is between nine to ten kilometers in a ninety minutes match. A much of this distance is covered by sprinting or high intensity pace. However, football strikers do not keep on continuously sprinting. The most logical way to achieve this is to take interim periods of pause to conserve the energy for the right moment. The whole idea is to pace themselves correctly for the right opportunities. It is the same with studies.
There has to be a balance maintained between studying and not studying. It has to be understood, that a holistic development of a student can only happen by combining both study and non-study activities. Often, a feeling of guilt overwhelms students when they indulge in non-study activities. They go though conflicting emotions of wanting to do something but unable to do it due to the feeling of guilt. As a result of this conflict they land up in a dilemma unable to do anything properly.
Hence, the first step in managing stress for students is to identify the study and non-study activities and allocating time to both without feeling guilty about it. After all goes the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Some of the examples of non-study activities are below.
Sports: Spending time in sports or physical activity can be an excellent non-study activity. It nourishes the mind and body and helps to ease any tension or stress created due to studies.
Entertainment:Watching a favorite television show, a sports channel, news or listening to music provides relaxation to many people. It is not wrong to spend time in entertainment. However, care should be taken not to get carried away and waste time.
Hobby: Spending time on your hobby is another useful study activity. It should be remembered that having a hobby that adds value to your overall self is a good thing.
Spending time in your non-study activities provides you the necessary break to return to your studies focused and refreshed.
- Manage your time
Most students complain that they do not have enough time. But the reality is that there are only twenty-four hours in a day and it has to be used effectively.
Time management is one of the most important skills for students. Mastering the skill will help the student to get organized, flexible, goal oriented and good time managers. With it students will be able to use their time more effectively in studies as well as recreational activities.
Most students fall victim to procrastination. It is the process of delaying a task that is something urgent, difficult, complex or important. There can be multiple reasons for procrastination like the nature of the task, the time limit associated with it or due to the lack of motivation on the part of the doer. Procrastination increases the stress levels of a person and the results of it are disappointing. Effective time management will eliminate procrastination and the stress associated with it. Also, time management will help students to plan, prioritize and perform all the study and non-study related activities.
- Reward Yourself
In the organizations when we work over time we get paid more. The extra pay is the extrinsic motivation for working more. Students need to reward themselves for being on target and for working hard. Rewards can be in form of extra time off from studies or in some other form. Some of the ways in which you can reward yourself could be as below:
- Taking a day off in a week helps you rejuvenate and get back to studies motivated
- Buy yourself a movie ticket over the weekend once all your assignments are over
- Spend time with family, friends and relatives after your exams
- Buy yourself a good read
- Take a break after every forty minutes of study
- Buy yourself a good treat if you find yourself to be achieving your targets
Such activities ensure that you stay energized and at the same time it gives you the incentive to achieve your objectives. Such rewards are found to be excellent de-stressors.
- Manage Expectations
The word ‘expectation’ has a great impact on a student’s life. The expectations from a student come from different fronts- academic, parents, relatives, peers and social. Continuous expectations from a person can be a very stressful thing for him. Hence for students, it is importance to learn the art of managing expectations. For a start expectations can be managed by being vocal about the problems and by being realistic while setting ones goals.For instance, if a particular student is not confident of doing well in his MBA entrance exams then he should carefully analyze his stand and be vocal about it to his parents and peers. Instead of getting bogged down by the problem, a better way out would be to seek support and counsel from family and friends. Also, during goal setting one has to be realistic and take into account ones development areas. Being realistic will help to set the right expectations and the journey would be far less stressful.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
There is a wide array of relaxation techniques to choose from:
- Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that involves relaxation stretching and breathing to rejuvenate a person.
- Deep breathing is one of the most common and easiest forms of relaxation. It can be practiced anywhere in a place of your convenience.
- To reduce stress one can use visualization techniques. Invoking mental images of beaches, ocean, beautiful sceneries etc. helps in eliminating distress. It brings in peaceful thoughts to mind.
- Progressive muscle relaxation, Tai Chi and Qigong are other techniques of bringing the mind and body into control.
Certain techniques like Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong should only be practiced under expert guidance. For a start, students can practice easier techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
The steps mentioned in this blog are very simple and easy to follow. In the beginning the students may fail to follow it religiously. But making a start is more important. Once the momentum is gained then the objective should be to make it a habit.
Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. It’s only a matter of how we manage it.
Contributed by Sanjit Das, ( Class Of 2005, IBS HYDERABAD )