By Angela Katsamakis & Sandi Strate, Counsellors – Student Services
- Breathe – Breathe, breathe, breathe. Take a few deep breaths focusing on moving the belly in and out. Why? Deep, slow, calm breaths tell our nervous system we are safe. Short, shallow breaths signal there is a threat, so we want to breathe deep to remind our body to be calm.
- Look at the bigger picture – If you’re feeling worried or anxious, take a step back and ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen? Would it be so bad if that happened?” Rationally examining your fears can help you change your perception and reduce your anxiety.
- Plan it out – Make a list of things you need to do, then break it down into smaller, achievable tasks. We recommend creating daily lists. That way, you can then focus on the things you need to do one day at a time.
- Reduce your demands – Examine your commitments and activities and ask yourself, “What am I prepared to give up?” Are you consciously choosing your activities? Are you doing things for others that they could be doing for themselves? Then delegate and say “no” where appropriate.
- Protect your time – Time is one of your most valuable assets, and it’s not in unlimited supply. Use it wisely. Ask yourself, “Is this what I want or need to be doing right now? What will happen if this doesn’t get done? Is this the best use of my time?”
- Take one step at a time – If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do, it can be hard to get started. Use the “five-minute rule.” Pick a task and commit to doing it for five minutes; usually, that’s enough time to gain some momentum, and you’ll want to keep going.
- Increase your resources – Who are your support people? Ask them for help. While your friends and family (or pets) cannot take your stress away, they may be able to offer care and support. In addition, use campus resources such as Counselling and the Learning Centre, and talk to your classmates and your instructors.
- Acknowledge you are human – Don’t dwell on past mistakes. Forgive yourself for any past shortcomings and move forward.
- Stay positive – Take the time to write down what is good in your life. Thinking of the things that are positive can help keep you grounded as life becomes hectic. Visualize your success and what it will be like when the stress is no longer in your life.
- Engage in self-care – Take care of the greatest tool you have: yourself. As much as you may not feel like exercising – EXERCISE! Just a short walk outside around the block can help. Make space for you, eat well and get plenty of sleep.
Remember, do what you can with what you have – your best is enough and the stress won’t last forever. Counsellors are here for your support if you need it.