(DegreeAdvisers.com) – Stressed much? You’re not alone. Of course, not all stress is negative. Stressing out over a big exam can motivate you to study harder for it, which could lead to better academic performance. But prolonged stress and feelings of overwhelm can lead to both physical and mental health problems.
Using a few coping strategies, you can begin to cultivate a lifestyle that keeps stress to a minimum, so you can stay motivated to achieve your goals. Not sure where to start? Here are six tips that can help you keep calm and carry on.
A primary tenet of mindfulness is living in the moment, not in last week’s exam or next year’s challenges. Learning to focus on the present can help minimize stress by removing past or future worries. By zooming in on the moment, you can address the current situation directly.
Ask yourself what you’re feeling. Tune in to your emotions and thoughts. Directing them into the present can curb anxiety and help motivate you to solve the current problem without catastrophizing the situation.
SMART objectives are:
When you set SMART goals for yourself, you’re more likely to achieve them than if you set general non-specific goals with no end dates in sight. When you have a solid plan with simple, measurable steps, you’ll be less likely to feel stressed and more likely to stay motivated. If your goals begin to overwhelm you, take a look at the SMART criteria and make sure they still fit within these parameters. Overwhelm may be a sign that you haven’t set achievable or realistic goals.
Scientists have identified a number of positive health benefits to meditation. Helping with stress is just one of them. By embracing a daily meditation practice, you can learn to better manage your anxiety while also using it as a way to focus on your personal and academic goals.
Another great way to minimize stress is to choose a day to go screen-free each week. If an entire day sounds like a lot to ask, consider having set times each day when you disconnect from screens for a while.
Going screen-free can silence the negative chatter that sometimes surrounds social media and a constant influx of news, but it can also help you tune in to the world and people around you for deeper, more meaningful connections. Taking a break from the digital noise can leave you feeling less stressed and more refreshed, and it can even improve the quality of your sleep.
Another way to minimize stress and to stay motivated is to practice gratitude. When you focus on what you appreciate about your life, you may find it helps shift your attitude away from stressors. While a gratitude practice won’t eliminate stress entirely, it can provide perspective.
Sometimes, this practice can look like reframing a thought to center it in gratitude. For instance, you don’t have to study; you get to study. Appreciating the opportunity for an education can be a reminder that it is an opportunity and not just a challenge on the way to the life you really want to be living.
Just Say Yes
There’s such an emphasis on saying no to what you don’t want that you may forget how powerful it can be to say “yes” to what you do want. When stress becomes overwhelming, it may be time to say yes to a break, to a walk outside or to lunch with a friend. Taking a break and resting isn’t lazy; it’s actually incredibly productive. When you say yes to something that feels restorative, you’ll return to your goals with vigor.
Stress is inevitable. Sometimes, it keeps us motivated. At other times, it’s just too much. Learning a few tricks to keep stress to a minimum can help you overcome the overwhelm and stay on track for your goals.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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