With the academic year in full swing, many of us find ourselves juggling schoolwork, social lives and work. During this higher-stress time, finding a balance is key to managing our physical and emotional health. So how can we find that balance?
Identify how stress shows up for you
Stress shows up differently for everybody. Some people have a very physical reaction to stress like lower energy, headache, upset stomach or sweating while others may have more emotional symptoms like constant worrying, racing thoughts, and inability to focus or feeling overwhelmed. Still others may experience a combination of the two.
No two people will respond to an identical stressor the same way, so tuning into our senses is a great way to stay present and identify how we’re responding to a stressor. For instance, targeting the physical response by naming what we see, hear and feel can in turn help calm a speedy mind. No matter how our bodies react to stress, learning ways to manage it can help us stay healthy in mind and body.
Develop a stress management routine
Like developing time management skills, it’s also important to find a routine for managing stress. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Try different stress management techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness and exercise and notice how they impact stress levels.
- Find two methods that you can commit to on a regular basis.
- Be intentional about practicing these methods in your routine, whether it’s in between classes or to help wind down at the end of the night.
Get support when you feel overwhelmed
At times, we may find that we have extended ourselves beyond our threshold of managing stress so it shows up as tremendous anxiety. If you are trying stress-reduction exercises on your own and your mind keeps running, it may be a sign that you need to talk with someone and look at where your stress is coming from
There are a variety of free resources on campus for stress management.
- SilverCloud Health is an online tool that lets you take charge and manage your emotional health and well-being through a variety of modules that teach skills around stress management, anxiety and depression.
- Relaxation Stations will be coming to The Rec and Health Promotion later this month, where they will have nap pods and other stress-reduction activities available for students.
- Health Promotion peer educators can also be found around campus at various outreach events with activities and resources to help you stress less, including five-minute chair massages, aromatherapy and more.
- Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers confidential, on-campus mental health and psychiatric services. CAPS also provides a variety of free workshops such as Anxiety Toolbox, Feel Better Fast and Feel Good Fridays. If you’re not sure what might be a good fit for you, you can drop by any of their Let’s Talk sessions for an informal and confidential consultation with a counselor who can help you figure out your next steps.