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Stress is one of those ever-present concepts among college students, a feeling of unease and discomfort that many students accept as a given and don’t even try to manage or eliminate. Most of the stress college students feel does nothing to improve the quality, quantity or timeliness of their work and as such is nothing more than a drain which makes their already difficult jobs all the more impossible. Read on and learn a good primer for getting started managing the stress in your life.
Is All Stress Bad?
The first thing you need to understand is the fact not all stress is bad for you. We tend to think of stress as a unidirectional thing, as a concept with no possible positive connotations or effects and this just isn’t the case. The truth is there are two different forms of stress out there. While you certainly want to avoid and minimize one of these types of stress it’s a good idea to maximize the other. The two types of stress are:
1. Distress. This is the kind of stress you want to avoid. This is the stress that comes from damaging mental and environmental states and which drains your time and energy and causes you to feel bad about yourself, your work and your life in general. This is the form of stress most college students are accustomed to and it can be caused by everything from negative friends and relationships, overloads of unnecessary work, malicious professors, unsupportive family members or constant work performed which is neither important nor meaningful (to name a few). This form of stress needs to be avoided, minimized and hopefully eliminated from your life at all costs.
2. Eustress. This is a form of stress that is talked about so rarely that few college students are even aware it exists. Eustress is the kind of stress which propels you to work hard on projects and assignments you consider to be important and worthwhile. Eustress doesn’t drain energy, it energizes you and makes you feel better about yourself and your life. Projects which cause eustress may be tiring because they require a lot of work but they never feel draining in the same way as stressful projects. Positive people (friends, family, faculty) and large, ambitious projects which are meaningful to you are common sources of Eustress.
What Stress Management is Really About
Now that you better understand exactly what stress is all about and the fact there are two different forms of stress out there the whole idea of stress management should take on a whole new light. The point of stress management is two fold
1. To eliminate Distress from your life.
2. To maximize Eustress in your life.
Why Most Stress Management Doesn’t Work
The reason most stress management systems or techniques is simple- they simply aim at eliminating distress without attempting to maximize eustress. Eliminating distress is good, it’s great, it’s necessary even. But if you remove distress from your life you’re just going to create a vacuum in your life which you will unconsciously fill with either the same distress you previously pushed aside or from some other negative source of pressure. By actively working to produce eustress, by clearly defining what you’re going to focus on after you get rid of the distress in your life you won’t have to worry about defaulting to negative feelings and drained energy when you find yourself with some free time.
Eliminating distress from your life by cutting out the problem at its source while simultaneously increasing eustress in your life by maximizing its sources isn’t something we’re taught in school so it might take a little practice. Thankfully all you need to do is sit down and write down what and who make you feel distress and then write down what and who makes you feel excited.
When you have your list it’s a simple matter of cutting the one list from your life while focusing on the other. It’s a little easier to say than to actually do, it may be simple but it’s not easy, but above all it is necessary work and the only effective form of stress management out there.