Ashley Hopkins, Staff Writer |
Life is stressful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle it! Taking walks, working out, or talking with friends are great ways to de-stress, but there are also simple ways you can manage your stress quickly and by yourself.
Amy Crouse-Powers, the Tutor Program Coordinator of the Student Learning Center, held a workshop Wednesday, Oct. 20th, called “Relax and Focus.” The workshop started with Powers asking attendees to write down all of the things that was on their minds. She called this “mind dumping.” Powers said that just getting everything that’s on your mind down onto a piece of paper can start the process of helping stress management. By getting your stresses down on paper, it helps with forgetting, and you can make a list for yourself and say, “I got it down, I can deal with it later.”
For many of us, anxiety is a real thing that we struggle with every day. If we don’t learn how to calm ourselves down and manage our stress effectively when we feel it coming on, it can be incredibly debilitating. A lot of times, we get stuck in our heads; thinking about what we have to do later, stressing over if we forgot to do an assignment, fitting in time with friends, or simply just worrying about the future. As the Tutor Program Coordinator of the SLC, Powers is very familiar with helping students with test and peer anxiety. These are common problems, and Powers stresses that they are real, but look different for everyone. The commonality is how people feel stress in their bodies: the butterflies, clammy hands, nausea. These aren’t the kinds of things you want to be feeling at any time, but especially not during a test. Powers gave different techniques to manage anxiety and stress that can be done anywhere, even while sitting in a classroom!
The first step is to bring yourself back to your body. Focus on your breathing. Try and take deep, slow breaths in and out through your nose, and focus on feeling the air move in and out the tip of your nose. Another thing that you can try is flexing your muscles going body part by body part, feeling what they feel like “stressed,” and then relaxing them body part by body part and feeling how they feel relaxed.
Sometimes just slowing down and being present can be extremely helpful. Powers showed us a grounding activity that helps with this. Start off by finding five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell (or like the smell of), and one thing you like about yourself. Again, this is a quick exercise that can be done anywhere to help manage anxiety.
Powers said the most important thing is “you need to be self-aware to be able to realize you need to manage your stress.” Stress is much harder to manage the worse it gets, so being able to realize early on that you’re getting stressed makes your life a whole lot easier. Remember that how you choose to react to stress is your choice. Make space between the stimulus (what is stressing you out) and your response by using coping strategies; whether that be trying out the ones above, or finding other strategies that work for you. However, coping strategies only work if you work constantly on strengthening those skills. Powers said, “Remembering to use (coping strategies), and practicing them when you don’t need (them),” is hard, but important work to remember to do when it comes to stress and anxiety management.
Stress is not going anywhere– it is everywhere in our lives. But you have the power to control and manage that stress so it doesn’t throw you completely off track. Stress and anxiety management is a skill, and like any skill, it needs to be practiced! Find what works for you– it might take a little searching.
For stress, like test anxiety, be sure to visit the Student Learning Center! They have tons of tips and people who can help you when it comes to struggling on test day.