Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

October 7, 2006 12:01 AM

Handling and Overcoming Stress

Did you know that stress is the leading cause of aging? Well, I don’t know much about that, but I remember watching the 20/20 on the myths concerning health, and they mentioned that stress, not the sun, ages you faster. Also, stress slows down the time it takes you to heal. Check this site a bit more for that little factoid: '20/20' Busts 10 Body Myths. It’s something to consider whenever you feel stressed.

Anyway, very similar to the last topic (time management), I am not the one to talk to about managing stress. If you ever see me in a stressful situation, you would understand. According to my roommates, I deal with stress by shutting everyone out, as if I have this huge invisible wall erected around me. After midterms, I tend to relax and be a lot nicer. But even though I do close myself from everything else, I have developed some ways to make sure stress doesn’t take over me and jeopardize my health.

First of all, I try not to think too much about whatever is going to give me stress. Okay, truthfully, that doesn’t work because I think too much and worry way too much. But it keeps me aware of what will happen in the future and how to plan out my schedules (this is how stress relates to time management). When it comes time, of course and naturally, you would want to freak out. Believe me, I do that a lot. Sometimes it works for me to freak out, but sometimes, it’s better to be calm. I think what I do is to studying in pieces, allocating appropriate time to study certain sections of a subject. Since I haven’t encountered taking multiple midterms in one day (well, I have, but they weren’t intensive like math, then chemistry, but I have taken a math final in the morning and then a chemistry final at night), I don’t have great suggestions. You might want to study a lot in advance (at least a week), and alternate the subjects you study. For instance, study chemistry for two hours, take a break, then study math for two hours. Prioritize. That’s the key word.

Stress…it’s always going to be around. I find that a lot of it is mental. If you worry, then you are more likely to freak out and really stress out. So you need to find ways to relieve that stress, find things to calm yourself down. I love studying with music. It’s one way to not feel as stressed, but if you are unproductive when you listen to music, then don’t do it. I also just like walking, but I tend to think a lot then. One of my friends suggested that you punch a pillow or something of the sort. Maybe write a journal (unless you are like me and find that time consuming and then you don’t have time to study or get ready for something important). Talk to someone, friends, family, or anyone who is willing to listen and not add to that stress. For me, it helps a lot when I talk with my family. Find something physical to do. Though I don’t do much of it anymore, I love to dance. It’s like one moment of my time when I can “be free” and stretch my muscles, especially after being so tense. Plan something exciting and fun after that “stressful event” whether it be midterms or papers or projects. Then you have something really to look forward to. That’s what I just did recently. And breathe. Take just small moments to do small things like watching the clouds drift by as you walk to class (maybe that's just me).

I don’t know a lot about stress management, and suggestions are always just suggestions. It’s different for everyone, so try to find something that works for you. Just remember that some things really aren’t that important. Yes, at the moment, you treat it that way, and I tend to do that a lot, but in the end, what happens happens. You can’t turn back time, so just do your best and enjoy the moments after. Sometimes, things really do work out for the best. And always be healthy. A test, paper, or project isn’t worth hurting your body in the end.

I hope this helps in some way. And feel free to write me any questions, comments, suggestions…I really like to read what others have to say about this.

P.S. Since I couldn't come up with a decent title for my blog, my roommates tried to come up with some. Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well. However, if you do ever feel stressed, choose a word and try to come up with titles or rhymes with that word with a roommate or friend. It's a great laugh and a way to destress. :)


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