Stress is common to everyone. Our bodies are designed to feel stress
and react to it. It keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. It is not
always possible to avoid or change events that may cause stress. We can
feel trapped and unable to cope. When stress persists, the body begins
to break down and illnesses can occur. The key to coping with stress is
identifying stressors in your life and learning ways to direct and
What is stress?
Stress is your reaction to any change that requires you to adjust or
respond. It's important to remember that you can learn to control
stress, because stress comes from how you respond to stressful events.
What causes stress?
Stress can be caused by anything that requires you to adjust to a
change in your environment. Your body reacts to these changes with
physical, mental, and emotional responses. We all have our own ways of
coping with change, so the causes of stress can be different for each
person. Common causes include:
- Job change
- Money problems
- Heavy traffic
- Legal problems
When you are not sure of the exact cause of your stress, it may be
helpful for you to know the warning signs of stress. Once you can
identify these signs, you can learn how your body responds to stress.
Then you can take steps to reduce it.
What are the warning signs of stress?
Your body sends out physical, emotional, and behavioral warning signs of stress.
Emotional warning signs include:
- Sleep disruption
- Inability to concentrate
- Unproductive worry
- Frequent mood swings
Physical warning signs include:
- Stooped posture
- Sweaty palms
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight gain or loss
- Physical symptoms that your doctor cannot attribute to another condition
Behavioral warning signs include:
- Acting on impulse
- Using alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from relationships
- Changing jobs often
- Feeling agitated most of the time
What can I do to reduce stress?
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or
beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
- Learn to relax.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
How can I learn to relax?
There are a number of exercises that you can do to relax. These
exercises include breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, relaxation to
music, and biofeedback. A few that you can try are listed below. First,
be sure that you have:
- A quiet location that is free of distractions.
- A comfortable body position. Sit or recline on a chair or sofa.
- A good state of mind. Try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.
2-minute relaxation-- Concentrate your thoughts on
yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly.
Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped.
Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can.
Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any
movements that cause pain.) Roll your shoulders forward and backward
several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a
pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale
slowly. You should feel more relaxed.
Mind relaxation-- Close your eyes. Breathe normally
through your nose. As you exhale, silently say to yourself the word
"one," a short word such as "peaceful" or a short phrase such as "I
feel quiet" or "I'm safe." Continue for 10 minutes. If your mind
wanders, gently remind yourself to think about your breathing and your
chosen word or phrase. Let your breathing become slow and steady.
Deep breathing relaxation- -Imagine a spot just
below your navel. Breath into that spot and fill your abdomen with air.
Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like
deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel
Best wishes & good luck with the exams.