One of the inevitable results of adulthood is stress management. There are times when we feel pulled in a dozen different directions, dealing with a seemingly hopeless array of deadlines and demands. The resulting tension can curl its tentacles into every aspect of our lives, with visible effects on mental and physical health. Stress management activities can reduce stress while trying to maintain a family life, relationship, and earn your degree.
7 Stress Management Activities
Sometimes we think that stress management is a luxury of those with more time than we have, but it’s important to change that perspective; long-term, chronic stress can depress immune response and encourage frequent illness. Stress management techniques are a vital part of a long, healthy life.
As adult learners, it’s doubly important to learn these techniques. Higher education is intellectually rewarding and a path to career advancement, but it can also be a huge source of stress. The internet abounds with advice for stress management aimed at traditional college students, but often neglects the unique needs nontraditional learners, who frequently have to balance the demands of their coursework with their families, career needs, and other outside interests. It’s a lot to have on one plate.
Never fear. Stress can be managed — even in the challenging ways in which it confronts older students. Practicing even a few of these techniques can make a significant difference in your health.
1. Remember Your Resources
If life becomes too overwhelming, remember that Point is behind you. Your advisors and teachers are always there to lend a listening ear, and our counseling service is the perfect place to discuss your life stressors and how best to manage them. If your stress has to do with school, remember resources like the Educational Resource Center, the Writing Center, and the Center for Calling and Career. It’s easy to feel alone when dealing with stress, but at Point, you’re anything but alone. Reach out.
2. Deal with Your Immediate Needs
If you have time, walk away from a stressful situation for a few minutes and give yourself time to calm down. Plan an approach to the problem, perhaps breaking it into smaller parts or tasks that you can tackle individually. If you’re pressed for time, just take a few deep breaths and count to ten before you speak or act. You’d be surprised how small things like this can take the immediate edge off a tough moment.
3. Address the Root Causes of Stress
Maybe balancing your work and school schedules is a bit much, or the demands of your academic life are creating tension with your family. Find out what’s really behind the problem, and develop a plan to deal with it: reorganize your schedule, talk to or reconnect with your family, or maybe just give yourself some down time. If your academic schedule needs tweaking, be sure to talk to Point’s advising service — that’s what we’re here for!
4. Give Yourself Time to Relax
We live in a world that runs nonstop, 24 hours a day, and it’s often hard to remember that we all need down time. But not only do we need rest, it makes us more productive; even small breaks can make a huge difference in your success. Take at least a few minutes each day to do something you enjoy or find fulfilling: meditate or pray, have coffee with your significant other, take a walk in the park, indulge in a hobby, or just watch some TV. You’ll be more relaxed and productive if you allow yourself some space of your own.
5. Maintain a Support System
Human beings are social animals, and we don’t do well in isolation. Scientific evidence is beginning to show that social contact reduces stress in the short term and may even have long-term health benefits. Connecting with old friends, making new ones, spending time with your family, or just doing some light socializing can be a great way to let go of some stress. In Point’s Hybrid Program, you’ll be surrounded by students facing the same life stressors that you do. Simply connecting with them via student groups or one-one- about your shared concerns and goals can reduce your burdens.
6. Take Care Of Your Health
Maintaining proper diet and exercise is a key coping strategy. Physical exercise triggers a number of mechanisms in the body that allow us to deal with stress, elevate our mood, and lower blood pressure. Diet it likewise important — multiple studies have shown that a healthy diet has a direct effect on mood and outlook. Plus, taking some time to focus on your physical health is a quiet reminder that you and your needs are important and shouldn’t be lost in your busy schedule.
7. Focus on the Positive
You’re taking steps to advance your life and career. You’re accomplishing big things, both personally and professionally. It may be hard to pause in the midst of the bustle, but decide to take time to be grateful for what you have and what you’re doing. Gratitude is more than a spiritual value; consciously deciding to think grateful thoughts, even once a day, has a significant health impact! Nontraditional education may be stressful, but that stress can be managed. Remember that these techniques are vital to a healthier you, and practice them as much as you can. You’ll be a happier and more productive student for it!r