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THE SJSU MA DIARIES

  • Janice Lee

Make Stress Your Friend


Are you finding yourself feeling overwhelmed the moment you sit down at your desk to get work done? Do you constantly feel like you have a never ending checklist you have to complete? If the answer is yes to either question, how does it make you feel? We are all programmed in our brains to think stress is the enemy. Anxiety builds up, your heart starts racing, and you might even feel light-headed. However stress affects you, it can take a toll on our everyday tasks situations. While this is true, there are ways to switch that negative feeling into a positive one. Practice turning stress from an enemy to a friend with the Four A’s.

The Four A’s with managing and changing your viewpoint of stress are avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Simple enough right? Let’s go into more detail.

Strategy #1: AVOID

Of course, you can’t avoid all the stress in your life. Some situations need to be confronted with, but you’d be surprised because there are lots of unnecessary stressors that don’t need to fill your head.

  • Take control of your atmosphere. Is traffic unbearable? Take the scenic route. It may be longer, but there won’t be as many people. Bring your own lunch if you hate waiting in lines.

  • Don’t be around people are a bother. There was a time where I wanted to be friends with everyone, but life just isn’t like that. You will run across people who you will never click with, and that’s ok. If someone is agitating you so much, it’s best to keep a distance from them.

  • Say “No”. Don’t take on every responsibility people try to put on you. It can feel nice at first because you’re helping others and making their day, but remember to take care of yourself too. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Know your limit.

  • Don’t take on too many tasks in one day. Prioritize your list from most to least important. Decide whether your least important tasks can be pushed or even eliminated. If you really need to get it done, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Plan ahead. Don’t pile tasks on yourself when you know it will be too much on you. You will start feeling a huge weight off your shoulders.

Strategy #2: ALTER

If a stressor can’t be avoided, try altering it. See if you can change the issue into something better.

  • Communicate. If something is bottling up inside of you, express your feelings to a close friend. You will start to feel a sense of relief and you’d have a support system with you.

  • Manage your time. Many of us procrastinate. We put things until the very last minute and as a result, we lose sleep and develop a negative mindset for the next day because of the stress. You can alter this by planning ahead and as a reward, may be given extra time because you were so efficient.

  • Assert yourself. Sometimes, you have to face things head on. If a talkative roommate comes back while you’re trying to study, let them know respectfully you can only talk for a few minutes and then the room needs to be quiet. Small problems will build up if you don’t address it yourself.

Turning stress from an unbearable moment, to a more bearable one by altering situations can make it more manageable.

Strategy #3: ADAPT

If you can’t change the stressor to make it better, consider changing yourself. With the right attitude and mindset, you can adapt to these stressful situations.

  • Reframe problems. Is traffic horrible? Turn on some of your favorite music to jam out to. Time will fly by with your favorite tunes. Don’t want to study for a test, but you know you need to? Look forward to what you can reward yourself with after like a spa day or your favorite dessert.

  • Think of the positive. Instead of thinking, “I can never do this,” think of “I will practice until I can.” Reflect on things that make you feel happy to be alive like appreciating your family, your friends, and just life in general.

  • Look at the big picture. Lots of situations you’re stressing about now will probably not matter in a month. Ask yourself if what you’re dealing with is that important. Is it worth spending all that energy?

Change is good. Every year you are not the same person as you were from the last. You grow as a person and learn to deal with situations in a healthier, more positive way.

Strategy #4: ACCEPT

Like what was said in Strategy #1, some stressors are unavoidable. Sometimes, we don’t have a choice and we have to accept the fact that a situation happened.

  • Know that some issues are beyond control. Stop stressing with something you can’t change. It’ll only make you worse.

  • Look for the positive. Grow and learn from the stress. Share your feelings with someone. It might make you feel better.

  • Forgive. Practice letting go of anger and everything that was boiling inside of you. Free yourself from the negatives.

Stress won’t disappear. It’s with us our entire lifetime. However, learning to manage it will be rewarding in the long-term. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. Stress gives us access to our hearts. A heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with friends and family and your physical heart by working hard to give you the strength and energy. By learning to view at stress this way, you’re not only getting better, but you’ll make new friends too. You’re saying you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.

What are some ways you deal with stress? Let us know in the comments below!