Stress. Stress is commonplace now. We’re all stressed out over completing stuff on time, before the next deadline, finishing the problems in a guide before the exam, get those perfect grades to keep our parents and teachers happy.
And once all of this is done. Start the process all over again. Rinse, repeat.
But, here’s the problem. It’s not easy. Stressing over studies, homework and grades can be overwhelming. And too much stress won’t be helping you and your grades at all. Too much of it can hurt your performance in school, and effect both your mental and physical health in a bad way. However, the effects of stress on you and your performance depend on how you handle it.
Negative Stress v/s Positive Stress
There are two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is good stress. It’s what keeps you motivated to keep working. It provides you with the inner determination to work through a task, and perhaps even enjoy it. However, when there’s too much of eustress, it turns into distress.
Distress is your negative stress. The one that makes you want to pull you hair out and curl up into a ball and cry at the sight of too much work. Distress is also the culprit behind all the negative symptoms always associated with the word ‘stress.’ The hormones secreted when stressed keep your body in a constant state of ‘fight or flight.’ This leads to high blood pressure, tension impairing one’s ability to make good decisions, loss of appetite and many other symptoms.
A certain amount of stress is necessary for one to get through life. We just need to keep it at an optimum level, instead of letting it turn into distress. Research these days suggests that stress can have positive benefits as well.
How to Cope with Stress
1. Identify what’s causing the stress. Is it the upcoming exam itself? One particular section that you have to learn for the exam? A project deadline? Try to work out exactly what’s causing you worry.
2. Try to view the reason for your worry in a positive way. Look at it in a constructive way. Or that you’re only stressed because the exam or that project matters to you. Will spending an extra hour with a tutor or help from a friend make you better at that topic you’re struggling with? How about asking your teacher for some tips on handling that project?
3. Exercise. I know, that sounds stupid. But exercising for a short while everyday takes away all that extra nervous energy. It reduces cortisol production, improving your cognitive functions. A good cardio workout helps you breathe better, relaxes your tense muscles and helps you think better. And who doesn’t want to think better?
4. Just breathe. How about taking up mediation? Or trying out some breathing exercises? Just close your eyes for five minutes before tackling a task, and breathe in and out as slowly and deeply as you can. Meditation helps reduce the bustle in your amygdala- the part of your brain that deals with stress. Check out this article for more breathing techniques.
5. Laugh a little. We know life’s all serious now, but laugh a little. Or a lot. And loudly if you can. Watch a comedy show, hang out with a funny friend. Laughter pretty much improves all kinds of bodily functions- better sleep, better memory, improved oxygen levels and blood flow, etc.
When you’re faced with what seems to be a monumental task and it’s stressing you out, just remember that being calmer will help you work better, and think better.