Your February mentor tip: Manage your stress for academic success
Students tend to deal with a lot of different kinds of daily stress. Whether it’s related to your academics or your personal life, it's important to be attentive to your stress symptoms and aware of underlying stressors.
Understanding your stress and where it comes from is the first step in being able to take the proper action to relieve some of that unnecessary student stress and help you perform better in university!
Understanding your stress
The best thing for stress management is self-awareness. Take note of signs or symptoms of stress. These symptoms can be physical, mental, emotional or behavioural. For example, maybe you’re having trouble falling asleep, or are getting annoyed more easily than usual.
Your body gives you these signals for a reason. When you experience them, take a moment to try and identify the triggers. Ask yourself: Why am I feeling this way? What is the cause?
Using self-care to manage stress
In a workshop led by Louise Côté, first year support counsellor at the Student Success Centre, I learned that excessive and prolonged stress can lead to burnout, which is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion.
To help prevent that worst-case scenario, it’s important to incorporate effective stress management strategies in your everyday student routine and practice self-care.
“Self-care is a way of living that includes behaviours which help you to be refreshed, to replenish your personal motivation and energy, and to grow as a person," says Côté.
"For example, self-care is like making sure to refuel your car regularly to ensure you don’t run out of gas and can keep moving forward."
I know that as students — with days packed full of classes, studying, group work and often part-time jobs — it’s hard to envision time to practice self-care. But trust me, just a few small changes can go a long way when it comes to reducing stress.
Here are the three main components of self-care and a few examples to help you adjust to them easily:
- Physical: One way to improve or maintain your physical health is by creating healthy habits, patterns and routines — and sticking to them! It can be as simple as staying hydrated, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or going to bed at the same time every night to give your body the energy it needs for a productive day.
You can always meet with a Concordia health promotion specialist to develop routines that work for you, or check out fitness classes offered at Concordia to stay physically active!
- Spiritual: This component is less about religion and more about feeling connected with the world around you. One way to do this is by doing more outdoors activities and reconnecting with nature.
You can always join an excursion with the Concordia Outdoors Club or join an Explore Montreal Walking Tour with the International Students Office, this spring. You can also attend upcoming events with the Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre.
- Emotional: Make time to address your emotions. The more you run away from feelings, the more they will drain your energy and ability to succeed in your day-to-day life.
You can do this by nurturing healthy relationships. Don’t let other people’s stress and negativity add to yours! You can also set reasonable limits — know what you can handle and learn to say no to what you cannot.
And of course, stay positive. Don’t let your negative thoughts take over. The more you adopt positive thinking, the more easily you can avoid the negative stressors in life.
Stress is a reality, but you can manage!
Ultimately, university is your chance to pursue your interests and learn more about subjects that fascinate you, all while developing and challenging yourself along the way. Of course, stress is often inevitable in this sort of environment but don’t let it jeopardize your experience as a Concordian.
As soon as you start noticing your stress symptoms, take action! Work to identify your stressors, and implement or adjust your self-care habits to counteract and eventually reduce your stress.
Need help finding strategies that work for you? Check out Concordia’s new Stressed? You can manage, we can help! resource.