Thursday, 3 April 2014

How To: Manage Stress Part 2


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So I didn't get this done the same week but at least it's the same month! But today I want to carry on with my deadline-themed stress management posts. In my last post I spoke about practical management techniques which I find help me a lot in revising for exams and getting work done for deadlines. In this post, I will be focusing a bit more on the self and how to keep your health and well-being above suicide levels (I'm not even joking) while you have periods of high stress.

Please remember though, a lot of this is largely subjective and I am in no way, shape or form a healthcare professional so please don't take my word for everything. I try my best to source what I'm saying but sometimes I may miss recent research to the contrary, or just accidentally get something wrong!

During periods of high stress and high workloads, it's very easy to neglect your social life, but you need to find some form of balance with this. Most human beings crave some form of social interaction, whether this is people in your class, work, your housemates or people you speak to on the internet. Just make sure you make time for this.

Like I said last time, try and stay organised, and this very much includes keeping an hour or two in your day for you and your social life. Go for a drink, coffee or lunch. If you play a sport don't stop. If you go to the gym don't stop going.

Likewise though, if you're a major stresshead like me, don't make it a requirement when you have a lot to do. Let this take somewhat of a back seat in your daily schedule. If you're highly strung having this on your 'to-do' list may make you feel like the world's crashing around you because oh my god you still haven't written 'x' number of words for the day, or revised anywhere near enough and you haven't even been to the gym yet and after the gym you have to eat and shower and it's gonna take so much time out of the day and you end up a crying mess on the floor. But it's very important than when you find yourself lying on the bed when you've hit a wall and you're feeling a bit poopy to maybe just go and do something that will perk you up a bit. I promise, it will help.

Reduce it, but just don't cut it out altogether, basically.

Don't stop taking your medication!
Okay, so this is very much advice for people who have some form on mental illness, but this also goes for people on any kind of medication that has side effects when you stop taking it, and for people on the contraceptive pill. I know taking medication becomes automatic to most people who have it in their daily routine, so this might sound slightly pointless. However, I unfortunately suffer from depression and I'm on the pill and trust me when I say I know how easy it is during periods of high-intensity stress to forget something that is usually so controlled. But once you forget it once, you might forget it again, and again, and again, and you will likely end up in such a low place. Or pregnant. It is widely recognised that forgetting to take antidepressants in particular can lead to a speedy onset of physical and mental illness. 

Keep a log if you have to of if you've taken it that day or not, and check it off when you have. I'm lucky enough to have a boyfriend who's somewhat paranoid about pregnancy so he pretty much reminds me to take my pill every day, so maybe get one of them haha!

But seriously, don't forget. It will just make everything worse.

Eat healthily
Now, I know this pretty much depends on the type of person you are and the type of lifestyle you lead to begin with. I like to be healthy, I go to the gym, I try and eat fresh fruit and veg everyday, I'm a vegetarian so I usually have a low-fat diet as long as I forget about the copious amounts of chocolate I eat, so I try to keep my brain and body healthy and fuelled throughout the day. Healthy eating contributes so much to your concentration levels so it's vital you don't neglect this when deadlines are upon you as concentration is the most effective weapon you have!

Studies have suggested that skipping breakfast, in particular, is detrimental to concentration and academic performance (two examples here and here).

I will be doing a post shortly on my top tips for healthy eating, but for now see Web MD's top brain food suggestions that you can try out.

Get your sleep!
Sleep is absolutely vital to our health and well-being, both mentally and physically. One study in 2010 found that waking up late was actually linked to lower grade averages. It's therefore vital that you go to bed early, maybe even just unwind for a bit by reading, or watching a film in order to fall asleep easier, in order to wake up at a decent time!

Stay positive
It's so easy under the piles of pressure to forget what's good in your life, but it's important you remember this. I can be an extremely negative person, but I try and write lists often of the good things in my life and why I'm grateful for them. I also might do what I call a 'Production Chart' where I will list what I'm stressed about/my current problems and then next to it, what I can do to make that better, or why it's actually more manageable than I think, for example:

This helps me to look at things in a positive and manageable manner. Also, if it helps, take 10 minutes to write down any plans you have for the summer or once your deadline period is over and stick this up on your wall. This might keep you motivated to get what you've got out the way! 

I hope all of this helped! Please post any tips you guys have for maintaining a good mental and physical well-being during times of stress!

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