The Secrets to a Stress-free life.

by Treasure Kilali

According to the English dictionary, stress is an emotional pressure suffered by a human being or other animal. It is seen as the body’s reaction to a challenge or demand which can be positive but is hardly noted for being negative. It is also seen as a feeling of “abnormal pressure” which can be traced to different aspects of one’s life.

While stress is a feeling that is very common, a recent study showed an increase in the stress levels of students from the time the global pandemic hit to date. This has been ascribed to “the shift in education and career plans that the virus forced”, which has negatively affected these students both physically and emotionally.

Stress is a common factor of learning in the university community for students regardless of their departments or levels. As a result, many students find themselves unable to cope with the pressure placed on them by lecturers, their financial concerns, health issues, personal troubles and other worries that they feel inclined to keep private.

Regardless, once stress begins to affect one’s health and well-being, it gets dangerous and must be made an issue of priority. Stress affects everyone differently but there are a few signs common to most which include; high levels of anxiety, difficulty making connections, constant headaches, over or under-eating, feelings of depression, irritability or having a short temper, low self-esteem, mood swings, feelings of being overwhelmed, aches and pains.

When feeling stressed according to an article by WebMD, there are three steps to take; Realise when it’s causing you a problem, identify the causes and review your lifestyle.

While stress is expected, there are ways to keep your stress levels low or better yet, to completely avoid it. This can be done by taking time out to relax, exercise, and avoid being too hard on one’s self, deep breathing, eating well, getting some restful sleep and prioritizing self-care.

With all that one has to face in the course of life, we find ourselves neglecting to care for and nourish ourselves; mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is dangerous to our health and well-being and you have to ask yourself: Am I taking on too much?

Most of the time, the answer is yes and even if you aren’t taking on what you consider “much”, perhaps you just aren’t handling your responsibilities well. It is important to take a break every once in a while, prioritize things and re-organise your life before diving back into the myriad of duties you have.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce or manage your stress:

· First, assure yourself that it is okay to prioritise self-care

· Take time to relax or engage in favourite past times.

· Be mindful of your mind and body – what you eat, when and how you sleep, and how you speak to yourself.

· Balance your personal responsibilities and responsibilities to others.

· Release the worry and focus on positive thoughts and affirmations

· Get some fresh air by taking walks, or put your body through physical exercise like a jog.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware of tried and tested methods to deal with stress from experts. In her book ‘How to be Mindful and Stressless’, Gina Biegel offers simple mindfulness practices for teens and young adults that explain how to reduce stress, build self-esteem and be compassionate. These practices once introduced as part of your routine help bring relief and ease to get you through tough days.