BY LIVIN PSYCHOLOGIST LUKE FOSTER
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to learn about it and change the way you think about it.
It might be hard to think positively about stress when most headlines focus on the negative effect stress can have on our health and wellbeing, but it is important to be aware that not ALL stress is bad.
If you understand and believe that stress can be your friend, not always your enemy, it may not have a negative effect on you at all.
For a lot of people, the moment you feel the slightest bit of stress it can feel like your whole world is caving in, that bad things will happen – we end up getting stressed about stress.
BUT, the right amount of stress has benefits and can give you the motivation to get stuff done… like studying for that upcoming exam, rehearsing for a work presentation, or even training for an important sporting match. Without any stress whatsoever, the motivation to act, to get off your butt and do things can be very limited. The important thing is to recognise when stress has moved into the not-very-motivating or unhelpful zone.
When stress might be approaching not-very-motivating or helpful:
- Headaches, tension in the body you can’t get rid of, chest pain, fatigue, sleep problems.
- Anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness or depression.
- Overeating or undereating, angry outbursts, social withdrawal, exercising less.
When it might be helpful to speak with someone like a psychologist or guidance counsellor at your school, or to reach out to the gang at headspace.
- If warning signs and symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks.
- If how you are feeling about anything is causing you signiﬁcant distress – “why can’t I shake this?” “I want these feelings to stop!”
- If the way you are feeling is preventing you from doing things you can usually do, the things you need to do or the things you usually enjoy doing.
Tips to help you keep stress working as your friend:
- Check out some of LIVIN’s Tips and Tricks here to help you manage your stress levels.
- Regular breaks: No one can study, practice or train for hours and hours straight and be effective. Break up your time into twenty-thirty-minute chunks so your brain doesn’t turn to mush.
- Speak Up: The best way to really remember and learn is to talk about what you’re learning out loud, without using any notes – Speak Up. Additionally, try and teach others what you have learnt – if you can teach it, you likely understand it very well.
- Avoid distractions: Checking Instagram or TikTok every 5 minutes is a recipe for disaster caused by distraction. Put the phone away during your twenty-thirty-minute study time, and reward yourself in a break!
- Sleeping is good: If you get a good night’s sleep before the particular big event, you will perform better and benefit from the structured studying/training that you have been doing.