Or, do you feel overwhelmed when you contemplate the enormity of your to-do list?
Whatever your approach to your studies, it is unlikely you will manage to avoid stress completely. And, in all honesty, you wouldn’t want to. Stress is an important factor in our survival mode as it is what causes us to take action or, alternatively, stop and freeze. Our heart rate can quicken, our muscles tense and our breathing may become shallow. These feelings are often what is required in order to meet deadlines or stop and think before we respond to a question. However, whilst stress is the body’s response to a perceived dangerous situation, when we experience these feelings in situations not an immediate threat upon our lives or over a prolonged period of time, such responses can become problematic; sleepless nights, tension headaches or anxiety attacks will only impair performance. It is therefore useful to be able to draw upon different strategies for alleviating these symptoms.
Once you recognise the feelings of stress, it is useful to try to understand the factors that have caused them. Ask yourself, what is it about this situation that I find stressful? High stakes? Volume of work? Time constraints? Only through an understanding of what is triggering your feelings can you put in place a response that is appropriate.
Avoiding factors that might amplify these negative feelings is a useful way to ensure that any responses to stressful situations can be managed easily. In most cases, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding drugs such as caffeine and alcohol can help in ensuring that when you encounter stress you can remain in charge of your reactions.
For lots of people, we experience stress when we feel that situations are beyond our control. Whilst there will always be times where this will be the case, we can minimise this experience in our day-to-day life by ensuring we are as well prepared as possible. Whether by producing a revision schedule or ensuring you have all of your resources ready before you sit down to study, these small steps can help construct a true feeling of power over the situation, one which you can carry as you encounter other events that might not leave you feeling quite so composed.
Whilst many of these strategies rely on a degree of personal insight or self-discipline, it is also important to remember that you are never alone. Whether speaking with a fellow student who may empathise with your experiences, or seeking support from an expert who can lend a hand, sharing your concerns is often the first step on the journey to overcoming them.