5 Tips for Managing School or Work Stress
Updated: Mar 5
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
Whether you are dealing with a looming essay deadline, cramming for an exam, or dealing with a huge to-do list in a high-pressure job, you can use stress management strategies to help reduce the risk of burnout and ultimately reach the goal and outcome you are seeking.
Keep reading for some tips that could be useful for you in dealing with your daily stressors at school and/or at work.
1. Connect regularly with family and friends
Your family, friends, and other important people in your life genuinely care about you and want to see you do well in life. Taking dedicated time to spend with them not only ensures you are strengthening and deepening these relationships, but quality time with loved ones can also be a beneficial way of decompressing and getting your mind off of school or work.
If you are feeling a bit disconnected, call or text your family member or your loved one to see when they are available to spend some time together. And, if you live in the same home as your family, try to have some distraction-free time where you put down your devices and focus on truly being with each other even if it is just for a short time - perhaps at dinner. This can help you feel you are prioritizing one another and your relationship.
2. Stop working/studying at a consistent time each evening
Turning off the computer or phone can be challenging, especially when you are feeling pressure with a deadline rapidly approaching, a project getting close to completion, or when you have a flooded inbox and really want to get through just one more email before logging off…Do we ever really stop at just one more email though? That one email will become five more, then ten more, and before you know it, it’s 8:00pm and you haven’t had a chance to think about what’s for dinner!
Unfortunately, the workload and to-do list doesn’t seem to get any shorter or easier and so there simply needs to be a time of day that you try to stick with as your cutoff time. Once that time comes, you stop studying and working and make a conscious effort to close everything down and change over into your personal time. Having an established start and end time for your day helps your mind and body learn when it is time to study or work and when it is time for rest. This routine can be very helpful for maintaining consistency in your day and week.
An idea that might make this easier is pairing an activity with the transition, such as listening to music that you love, going to the gym, or, if you work from home, perhaps going outside for a short walk. Shifting into something else once you are done with work or school for the day can help you let go and turn your attention to a hobby or pursuit that you enjoy.
3. Meditate and use deep breathing to calm your nervous system and regulate your emotions
Meditation and deep breathing are often described as powerful techniques to ease stress-related symptoms as they ensure that you don’t push yourself beyond your limit.
If you are a beginner to meditation, try to follow a guided meditation exercise either by listening to one on your favourite media platform (e.g. Youtube, Spotify, Apple music, etc.).
For deep breathing, you can try to also explore exercises online. One idea is to look up something called square breathing, which involves imagining that you are inhaling and exhaling as you move along the four sides of a square. Side 1 (across) – inhale, side 2 (downward) – exhale, side 3 (along the bottom) – inhale, side 4 (back up to the top) – exhale. This focus on the breath is useful for slowing you down and calming you down as well. Once you are in a calmer state, you may notice that your stress melts away and may not impact you as much as it did before you were in a zen state of mind.
4. Take breaks during the day
Breaks are essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Perhaps you take an hour lunch as well as a 15 minute break mid-morning as well as a mid-afternoon break before you finish studying or working for the day.
Part of your short break can include refilling your water, eating a nutritious snack, and simply getting enough rest. And perhaps you can even breathe in some fresh air when you are on your lunch break. Getting enough rest is an important step for keeping your productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency levels up throughout the day.
5. Exercise in a way that feels good to you
How do you like to exercise? Running? Yoga? Pilates? Intense cardio workouts? Swimming? Hiking? No matter which avenue you choose, the key is to find an activity that leaves you feeling renewed and rejuvenated afterward.
Whether you do your exercise at the start of the day, on your lunch break, or at the end of the day can be based on your energy levels – pay attention to whether you are a morning bird, a night owl, or something in between! And please don’t feel that you need to exercise every day – find a balance that is realistic and that works for you and your lifestyle. Speak with your doctor as well about any health precautions you may need to keep in mind in terms of your exercise routine.
I hope these tips have been useful for you and that you can use one or more of them when you start to feel stressed.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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