I would usually say I deal with stress pretty well, but yesterday it hit me like I had just run into a brick wall. I think stress had slowly been creeping up on me, in fact my voice teacher just mentioned to me that I seemed more stressed this semester. Well, this was news to me, until of course, I took a look at all that I was juggling. Classes have suddenly become much more involved and demanding. (What is fafsa?) On top of that, midterms are approaching. (Scholarships need applications?) I am also involved in theatre outside of my classes. Did I mention I have to plan a trip to New York City for next week?
Like I said. Brick wall. In my face.
In these moments it’s important to remember some fundamentals in dealing with stress. It’s not easy, but proper stress management is essential for not falling apart at the seams. First, I’ll cover some stress management tips for when you get those mini-panic attacks (short term management) then we’ll look at some tips to reduce overall stress in your life (long term management.)
Ok, let’s deal!
As a singer, it’s essential to know the most natural, effective way to breathe. Proper breathing is important to producing a good sound, but it’s actually important for every part of living. When you are breathing properly, your tummy should stick out, which goes against what most people are trying to look like. But that’s how you’re supposed breath! Breathing from your diaphragm and filling up your whole body with air is what your body is designed to do. This way, your body gets the oxygen that it’s craving, and if you’re a singer like me, you sound a million times better.
So next time you get a mini-stress-induced-panic-attack, just take some deep breaths. This will do wonders to calm you down and keep you grounded. Even if you’re not stressed, practice proper breathing.
Identify the Source of your Stress
This is important for getting un-stressed. Are you stressed because you don’t have enough time to do all your homework? Are you stressed because you don’t know how to do your assignments? Do you have anxiety over an upcoming test? Identifying exactly what is stressing you out is an essential step to dealing with your stress, otherwise you’ll just keep internally freaking out. Find the source, and take care of it.
Write a List
When all the things you have to do just seem to keep piling up, write a list. Visualization is key to getting things done; it makes more of an impression on you. If you can, write your list in chronological order, or in order of importance, then commit to your list! Personally, I have a notepad on my desk at all times just for these such situations. Another benefit to keeping a list is that crossing off a task that you’ve completed is such a relief. Your stress melts away with each completed task, so write that list!
When you’re stressed, major tension builds up in your body. Exercising is a great way to get rid of that tension. Your mind also gets a break from all that worry, and you’ll probably be able to think clearer after working out. I prefer to go for a run when I’m stressed, however just playing some music and dancing around for a while can be a great stress reliever.
Get Some Perspective
So, if you really have a stress attack, you should remember that this too will pass. College is only four years of your life, and this stressful moment will seem insignificant in 10 years. Even if your classwork falls apart, your schedule is packed, and your grades plummet- just take it with some perspective. As long as you are doing your best, the rest will just fall into place
Ok, switching gears!
Use a Planner
I’ve always carried a planner, however I’m not very good at actually using it, and this has come back to bite me more than once. Whether it’s a test, a birthday party, an essay deadline, an overdue library book, or a cancelled class, just take a minute to write it down. Perhaps you won’t have to look at it later, because even writing it down can help imprint it in your memory, but get into the habit of keeping track of all the little details in your life
Practise Identifying Tension
As an acting student, I am being taught to identify and control the tension in my body. Everybody has tension in their bodies and this can tell us a lot about a character and ourselves. Tension in our bodies and stress in our minds are directly related, so if you can learn to let go of that tension you can relieve your stress, but it takes practice. Here’s what you can do: lie on your back and tighten all the muscles in your body beginning with your feat. Hold and then let go beginning from your face. Try to isolate each individual muscle.
What I mean by this is having something in your life other than school that keeps you grounded in reality. If you have some really great friends, get together with them to talk about something other than school. Have hobbies and passions that take you outside of the university world. Invest in other areas of your life. For me, I have to stay grounded in my Faith, otherwise I would be a mess across the board.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Among all the responsibilities you have to juggle in college, be sure to take some time to do something you enjoy. At the end of a long day, it’s important to wind down in order to sleep properly. And of course sleep is super important! Take some time to read a book, watch some tv, draw a picture, or have a spa night. Taking time for yourself is just another way to invest in and care for yourself. Don’t spread yourself too thin!
Wow! Just reminding myself of these things has already helped me have a better outlook on my stressful situation. Just remember to keep the big picture in mind- dealing with stress is much more of a lifestyle than it is a last resort. So, try to incorporate these tips into your life to be better equipped to tackle stress.
How do you deal with stress? Let me know!