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Strategies to Cope with Stress

Stress is a part of day to day living. As a college student[SC1] I experience stress meeting academic demands, adjusting to a different schedule every week, or developing relationships with others. The stress I or anyone else experience is not necessarily harmful; in fact, stress is a normal part of life. Although we tend to think of stress as caused by external events, events in themselves are not stressful. Rather, it is the way in which we interpret and react to those events that makes them stressful, and will either make us peak performers or not. People differ greatly in the type of events they interpret as stressful and the way in which they respond to stress. For example, speaking in front of a large crowd can be stressful for some people and relaxing for others. There are several symptoms that you may notice when you are experiencing stress. These symptoms basically fall into three categories. They are feelings, thoughts, and behavior. When a person is under stress, they will normally show symptoms from each category.

The first thing I feel when I’m under stress is my anxiety begin to set in. I start to feel dizzy, and sometimes even nauseous. I get a pounding headache that nothing helps with and I become very irritable. When this happens, I have to ground myself. I have to be present where I am, and not where my anxiety wants to take me, or I will lose it and have a full on[SC2] attack. I focus on things like what I see, what I hear, what I taste. For 2 minutes[SC3] I focus on things surrounding me in that moment. I spend that time fully experiencing the world as it is around me now. After my time is up, I begin to focus on the things causing me stress that I can control, and doing away with things that are out of my control. Every time I do this, I strengthen my ability to pull back from the anxious thoughts that steal me away from the safety and security of where I am.

The second thing I do when I feel stressed or anxious is trust myself. Trust that whatever happens, I can deal with it – because I can. The future is always uncertain, so anxiety has a pretty easy time of causing a stir for me. Not everything will go to plan and that’s okay, but the more I try to control things, the more I tend to realize how little control I actually [SC4]have. Anxiety is just a feeling that comes occasionally, but eventually will go, like a day with bad weather. It may get me down for the day, but I’m a fighter. I’ve been fighting anxiety for awhile now and winning. I can deal with anything that stands in my way.

There are several behavioral effects of stress depending on how much stress you have and what type of person you are. In general, the behavioral effects of stress come in 2 states or stages. The short effects and the long effects. The way short term stress affects my behavior is by constant movement. I tap my foot uncontrollably, click the bottom of my pencil, or bite my fingernails. The long term [SC5]effects of stress, however, are much different. They effect my behavior in much more serious ways. The first is my sleeping habits. With no activities to distract me, negative thinking, anxiety and worry takes over my mind. Fear of forgetting something or expectations for forthcoming events limits my ability to relax sufficiently to fall asleep. Because stress is a constant battle between being a mother of a one year old, pregnant with my second child and in nursing school, I feel as though I have learned to manage it well. The most important thing for me to do to avoid insomnia caused by stress is time management. I have a schedule for myself and a schedule for my kids to maintain a routine that works for my family and allows me time for homework and family time. Even with the consistency, stress and anxiety still creeps in when I don’t get the grade I wanted on an assignment or there was an unexpected change in the schedule. These are the things that cause me to have insomnia caused by stress. How I manage them is by doing things that relax me. I take bubble baths with essential oils that help reduce stress in the body and listen to relaxing music. Then I make myself a cup of hot chamomile tea which helps me to feel relaxed and sleepy. While doing these things, I constantly remind myself that I can only worry about the things that I can control and I have to[SC6] let go of the things I cannot.

Another way stress effects my body is through my eating habits. I find myself becoming extremely unmotivated when I am under stress that I cannot control such as finances, which leads to unhealthy eating habits. Because eating out is so much quicker and doesn’t leave a mess, it is VERY tempting for me to give into. But, because fast food is so unhealthy for you, especially when eating often, it results in me feeling even more tired and even less motivated. Not to mention more stressed financially. So[SC7] this month my husband and I made a goal together that we will not eat out this entire month. That way it will help us financially, and hopefully help us be more motivated to deal with everyday stressors.

Many people feel too embarrassed or ashamed to openly discuss their experiences with stress. It is, therefore, essential that we familiarize ourselves with the behavioral symptoms of stress so that we may be able to identify what they are going through and remind them that the channels of communication are open and that we were willing to help them, or help them find more suitable help.


[SC1]Comma after student

[SC2]full-on

[SC3]comma

[SC4]only need have, actually is not needed

[SC5]long-term

[SC6]use words like must or should

[SC7]comma after So

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