Friday 22 May 2020

Managing Stress during Covid-19

Claire shares her tips to identify and reduce stress while studying at home

- Claire Tucker

Stress is a part of life. Time pressures, financial burdens, exams, family issues, and a host of other things all put pressure on. Whilst some stress may be necessary and beneficial, too much stress isn't good if we don’t always manage it well. Especially not in a world-wide pandemic, like what we’re facing now. 

Identify the Stress: 
You have to know that you’re dealing with stress if you want to do anything about it. Stress will show itself in many different ways. You could be irritable, battling to sleep, and have tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, and jaw. In my opinion, the worst symptom of stress is the confusion that comes with it, the feeling that you can’t think straight or focus on any one thing. If you want to manage your stress, you need to call it what it is. But more than that, you need to identify what stress you are facing and what is causing it. Here are a few types of stress that you could face in your studies: 

Transferred Stress:
This one is a monster because it isn’t easy to identify. This stress is when others want you to ace that exam, and so you push yourself harder than what you should. This stress also happens when those around you are stressed, and you subconsciously pick it up. For example, when fellow students are talking about an upcoming exam and are sharing their fears about not being prepared. Their stress could make you start to worry about your preparation, and so you start to stress about it too. Right now, your family could be stressed about a variety of things. Questions to ask are: do I feel more stressed after being with a specific person? In a particular area? Talking with a family member about a particular topic? To combat this stress, you could try and limit your time with the person or place that makes you feel stressed. If someone is making you feel stressed, it will help to talk with them about they are making you feel and with someone else so that you can better handle the pressure. 

Environmental Stress: 
There are times when your environment puts stress on you, especially now. I am one of those people who studies best when I am undisturbed. But being at home with my family around me makes this difficult. There’s noise, and then somebody wants tea and wants to know if I’d like a cup. Then the dog wants to play, and the phone rings, and people are moving around me and interrupting my focus. This stresses me because with each interruption, I know it will take me several minutes to get back into the flow of working, and there are other things that I will need to see to later, which means that I need to get my work done now. The best way to combat this is to talk with your family and set up times when they know that you are studying and should not be disturbed. Music that is composed to boost focus helps tremendously as well. 

Stress from Your Plans: 
We all have plans and things we want to achieve in our studies. We all have plans and things we want to achieve in our studies. For me, the pressure that I put on myself to attain the exam results I hope for is a bigger source of stress than the exam itself. In the past, when I didn't achieve my planned grade, I was too tired and burned out to care and I had to take a gap year before I was ready to even think about studying something more. You need to set goals to be motivated in your studies, but you also need to give yourself permission to not reach those goals, or to try again in order to reach them. Especially now. The plans and timeframes you were working with before COVID-19 might not be realistic anymore. You might have to take longer before you finish your studies and achieve other goals. You need to give yourself permission to do that. Don’t give up on your dream or goal, but make sure you’re okay with not reaching it the way you initially wanted to either.

Finally, keeping yourself healthy is one of the best ways of combating stress. Get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and go for a walk each day. Always remember that your overall health is more important than your studies. When this pandemic is over, you want to be able to step out into the world as a healthy human being.

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice on managing exam stress, click here. For more information on looking after your wellbeing during the Covid-19 outbreak, click here.

I studied Aromatherapy and Herbal Medicine online while being self-employed and living at home. I believe that the only way I was able to achieve this was because I learned how to manage the many little stresses that I faced in everyday life. 

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