Let’s talk about stress
One student shares their favourite coping methods
Healthy U is a student group of trained volunteers dedicated to educating fellow students on important health-related matters. This article was prepared by a Healthy U student volunteer.
Let’s talk about stress and how to reduce it in our daily lives! It has certainly been a stressful year for me with the pandemic, remote learning, not being able to see family and friends as often and the recent strike here at the UofM. Thankfully, stress is something that can be reduced and there are plenty of methods out there to get your stress levels down!
What is stress
First off, what is stress? Stress is a human reaction that occurs in everyone although we all may express or experience it differently. When you experience some sort of stressor or change, your body will produce a mental and physical response to that change.
Some potential stressors include:
- financial constraints (being a student can be hard)
- living away from home
- academic pressures
- entering a new relationship
- a new job
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, as positive stress (eustress) occurs as well. In our lives as students, stress can help us work harder if we know there is an important deadline approaching. Stress can be problematic if the stressors continue without any period of relaxation (or complete removal of the stressor). Prolonged stress can lead to a weakened immune system, headaches, various aches and pains, anxiety, sadness, and even depression.
How to lower our stress levels
So how do we lower our stress levels? There are many ways to cope with stress, but some ways can be adaptive while others may be maladaptive. Everyone is unique, so some techniques to deal with stress may be useful for you while that same technique may not be useful for others. The important thing is finding a technique that can be helpful to you.
Some excellent methods that work for me include eating well, taking some time for myself (self-care), sleeping on time and speaking with friends and family about what is stressing me out.
Another great method is practicing mindfulness meditation. This could look like taking a few minutes to yourself and sitting in a nice quiet area where you can focus on your breathing. During this time, you would meditate with your eyes closed (or open if you prefer) and just focus on your thoughts. The goal of this exercise is to not judge your thoughts, but to openly accept them. Mindfulness meditation can help relieve stress and can also help improve memory—helpful for us as students in my opinion!
Here are some resources that you can access to help lower your stress levels and learn more about stress:
This is an edited version of a piece that was previously published on the Healthy U website.