Stressed to the Max? Here's How to Handle It

Posted By Staff Writer on June 22, 2017

I have been thinking about the concept of “stress” lately. This word is used over and over in conversations with students, coworkers, friends, and relatives. Whenever someone feels overwhelmed, it is “stress.” Whenever a student gets behind, it is because he or she is “stressed.” If things aren't going as planned, “stress” comes knocking. Before we use this word again, let's stop to think about what stress is and how it affects you. Believe it or not, stress can be managed and can actually be used to your advantage.

First, what is stress?

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We have all felt it many times and are likely to feel it again in the near future. But literally, the feeling of stress is “your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.”1

The number one reason stress occurs is due to poor planning.

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“With today's heavy homework loads, time management and organizational skills are crucial weapons against stress”, experts say.2 Instead, prioritize your work, remain focused, and remember that the world's very survival does not depend on the perfect completion of that assignment! When we don't deal with an issue or internalize stress, there are negative manifestations that occur in our bodies. Headaches, fatigue, anger, and loss of sleep or appetite are just a few forms stress can take when not resolved.

The quickest and easiest way to manage stress is to give it an immediate outlet. Use that bottled-up energy to clean the house, walk the dog, or play with your kids. Walking away from the source of the stress, even for just 15-20 minutes, can help you refocus and return to the task at hand.

Personally, when I feel stressed I like to hit it straight on with laughter.

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Like the old adage states, “laughter is the best medicine.” I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. When that internal tension starts building, I call a friend, play a game with my children, or watch a funny movie. Taking in a positive experience tends to squelch that negative tension. Like most of you, there have been extraordinarily stressful periods in my life that a humorous movie or sitcom could not help. In these situations, I used that extra energy fueled by stress to achieve even greater goals. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is possible. Many of you have already accomplished this by signing up for school. You used the stress from an unsatisfactory job or lifestyle to make a decision to pursue a new challenge. There is no way to completely avoid stress, but you can maneuver through each challenge.  Remember to plan ahead to alleviate stressful situations, walk away for a few minutes if you feel anxious, and use each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

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Amanda Ferrante was the Associate Dean of Accounting at Stevens-Henager College from 2003-2013.  Prior to this position, she taught online in the Business Administration program.  She started as an adjunct instructor at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, location in 2003.