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We have all had this feeling before. Our muscles go tense from it, our bodies feel drained, and our minds go crazy. Yes, the feeling is stress. According to Merriam-Webster.com stress is defined as, “A constraining force or influence as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation (2011).” As a college student I’m faced with all kinds of different stress. As well, most of you probably witness a little stress in your life too. Having to cope with stress as a student is not uncommon. A recent MSN article reports that the Associated Press conducted research on college student stress at many colleges throughout the United States. The survey found that four out of ten college students report they feel stressed often. One out of five say they feel stressed most of the time. One out of four students experienced daily stress and one in ten had thoughts of suicide (2008). That is why today I would like to inform you what I believe to be three of the main stressors that everyone goes through. This would include financial problems, workplace stress, and personal relationships. Then, I would also like to take you through five steps that I have found useful in coping with stress.
The first main stressor is financial problems. Bills can become overwhelming. Especially when they just keep piling up. Most of us have student loans, credit card bills, rent, gas, electric, phone bills, and the list can go on. Also, with gas prices continuing to go up, cost for school going up, groceries going up, and pay rate going down, not to mention jobs all together are hard to find, stress can easily build up when financial burdens get the best of us, and coping with stress becomes hard when we don’t have a good strategy to keep the stress in check.
In addition to financial stress we have work place stress. Workplace stress maybe brought on by many factors. You may be worried about getting you next promotion, or you may be worried about losing your job since the economy is so bad. Other factors could be the experience of negative behavior from you coworkers or boss. You might not be reaching your career goals or there are major changes happening at your work place and you worry about how it will affect you. Many factors in a work place can bring on stress and overwhelm us, especially if we don’t know how to cope with stress.
Furthermore, there is the stress of personal relationships. We may receive attitudes from our relatives. Have arguments with our kids or spouses. There could be possible illness to deal with in the family, or a major change of location could have happened. These all bring on a great deal of stress in our lives. Without knowing how to cope with all these stressors they could really exhaust a person.
Therefore, I would like to introduce an acronym I use to remember five steps in coping with stress. The acronym is R-E-L-A-X. It stands for Recognize, Exercise, Let-it-go, Attitude, and Xtra sleep. Let’s go over each letter one by one.
The first letter is “R”. “R” stands for Recognize. We must first recognize the stress before we can cope with stress. Once you recognize the stress try writing what you are stressed about down on paper. This is a way to vent and analyze a better way to go about your situation. Also, some people just simply find writing very relaxing and it helps calm their nerves.
The second letter is the letter “E”. “E” stands for Exercise. Incorporate exercise into your life. Make it a daily routine. Set aside time to exercise because it is simply good for you, and it will help keep your mind off your worries. If you can learn to make a routine out of it, then you can start building onto that routine and get more organized. In time, you will be less overwhelmed and enjoy having a healthy routine.
The third letter is “L”. “L” stands for Let-it-go. So many times things can be let go. Think about it? Will it matter in ten years, or even five years? If the thing that is stressing you out won’t matter in the long-term, then just let-it-go because it is not worth stressing over. Life is too short to be anything but happy. If it does matter, take a minute and then address the situation piece by piece so you can make a good decision.
The fourth letter is “A”. “A” stand for Attitude. When you talk about school or work do you often talk about how you will fail, or how you can’t do it, or how it is too hard? Well, that is just being pessimistic and clearly having a poor attitude. You then need to step back, evaluate yourself, and adjust your attitude. According to Psychology Today, “Optimism is an admirable quality, one that can positively affect mental and physical health.”
Now, the fifth letter is “X”. “X” will stand for Xtra sleep. Everyone needs proper sleep for energy. Are you not getting enough sleep? Are you staying out all night? Or are you staying up late? Then you need extra sleep. The best way to get the sleep you need is to have a schedule and stick with it. Go to bed at a decent time. When you develop a routine you will notice you have plenty of time during the day to do things. In the end you will be less frustrated when you get the sleep you needed.
On the other hand, not all stress is bad. What I have been referring to is bad stress or what is called distress. But, there is such a thing as good stress. Good stress is stress that comes from excitement or adrenalin and can be very beneficial.
In conclusion, what I informed you of today is a few main stressors in our lives such as financial problems, work place stress, and personal relationships, and how coping with stress can be done using the acronym R-E-L-A-X, Recognize, Exercise, Let-it-go, Attitude, and Xtra sleep. So now, if you have happen to run into a stressful situation you will know what steps to take to reduce that stressful event, or if you can’t remember the five steps you will at least remember the acronym RELAX and just simply relax. That alone can help take the stress way.
This is just one way that coping with stress can be done. There are many other ways to cope with stress that you will be introduced to throughout this website such as: using stress relief games, dealing with anxiety, using stress toys, taking herbal remedies for anxiety, and more.