Get to grips with stress

Get to grips with stress


Everyday life occasionally includes stress. This is normal and even necessary. Stress can even be a good thing on occasion. A suitable amount of stress spurs you on and makes you do things efficiently.

A suitable amount of stress spurs you on and makes you do things efficiently.

However, good everyday life means that there is not too much stress – at least not for long periods at a time. If you have too much stress, life feels tough and tiresome. You should learn to recognise the symptoms of stress and exhaustion in advance and practice different means of alleviating stress.

Threatening and overburdening situations produce stress

Stress is produced when you feel that your skills and abilities are not enough or that you have to push yourself to the limit. The following are examples of things that can produce stress:

  • constant hurry
  • changes in relationships and living conditions
  • lack of social relationships and loneliness
  • lack of support
  • financial problems
  • unreasonable demands and schedules
  • burdensome lifestyle

Sometimes even positive things, such as graduation or a new relationship, can produce stress. Stress is individual: something that stresses one person out, does not affect another at all. Some people also get stressed more easily than others. Your personality traits, temperament and situation in life are all things that affect how you experience stress. Excessive expectations and demands from yourself or others can also often increase stress levels.

Sometimes even positive things, such as graduation or a new relationship, can produce stress.

Temporary stress tunes you up for action

We are at our best when we are excited and focused on what we are doing. Positive stress tunes us up for action, gives us energy and helps us focus. If we never experience any kind of stress, we might not get anything done. Stress also tells us which things are important to us – that is why they stress us out!

The main issue is whether the stress is temporary or constant. Short-term stress does not usually cause any problems – it makes people do their best. Long-term stress, however, can be harmful in many ways.

Recognise excessive stress

You should learn to recognise the symptoms of stress that is excessive to you. You can then act on it before the pressure gets too high. Learn to listen to yourself as symptoms of stress vary from person to person. The most typical symptoms include the following:

  • Various physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension and pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, upset stomach and stomach pain
  • Emotional symptoms, such as annoyance, anxiety, increased tendency to cry, volatility and melancholy
  • Behavioural symptoms, such as sleeping disorders, withdrawal from normal functions, impatience, nervousness, restlessness and dawdling
  • Symptoms related to thinking, such as problems with concentration, pessimistic thoughts, difficulties in making decisions, increased self-criticism, memory disorders

You should learn to recognise the symptoms of stress that is excessive to you.

Long-term stress can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, severe depression, high blood pressure, fatigue and sleeping problems. Please consult a healthcare professional if needed.

Learn to control stress

When you learn stress management, you will be able to maintain stress on such a level that its negative effects do not bother you. Things you can focus on with stress management include the following:

  • Affecting the situation that causes stress.
  • Affecting your own ways of thinking.
  • Reducing the effect of stress.
Defeat the stress-inducing situation

Start with the easy things. If insufficient rest or not being outdoors enough causes you stress, change your everyday rhythm. Sometimes changes relate to bigger things, such as changing your study place or line of study. List things according to their importance and consider what measures are necessary for change to happen.

List things according to their importance and consider what measures are necessary for change to happen.

Stress often concerns a particular situation, such as holding a presentation. Face the stress-inducing situation again, and you will get an important experience of surviving it. You can also skip stress-inducing situations that are not essential.

Practice your thoughts
  • Do not be fooled to think that you are any worse than others.
  • Pause and calmly assess the situation: recognise your own limits and resources.
  • Be lenient towards yourself and satisfied with what you have achieved.
  • Discard excessive demands and be gentler towards yourself.
  • Search for concrete solutions to the situation instead of worrying and dwelling on it.
  • Try to accept past events and look forward instead.
  • Remember that small worries are not the end of the world. Mistakes will be understood and accepted.
  • Believe in your own ability to control stress and influence your own life.
Minimise the effects of stress

 Time management is a good way to control stress. Try out the following tips:

  • Plan your schedule carefully.
  • Ask yourself what is essential and in what order should things be done.
  • Set both short-term and long-term goals. Schedule yourself small steps for achieving each goal.
  • Order your tasks according to their importance. Weed out unnecessary tasks and ask others for their help.
  • Reserve time for things that you like.

Time management is a good way to control stress.

Utilise your relationships when feeling stressed, too:

  • Accept any support you are offered.
  • Talk about stress with your loved ones and friends.
  • Seek other people’s company even if you do not always feel like it.
  • Look after your own limits and do not let others lead you. Be stern.

The starting point for everything is looking after yourself in your everyday life:

  • Maintain a rhythm and familiar routines in your life.
  • Exercise in a way you find pleasant.
  • Sleep enough.
  • Eat regularly and in a healthy manner.
  • Use alcohol only in moderation.
  • Do pleasant things that bring you joy.
  • Add nature elements into your everyday life.
  • Give yourself treats.
  • Relax every day.

Food for thought:
  • What signs tell you that you are feeling stressed?
  • What kinds of effects does stress have on your wellbeing?
  • How do you process stress?