DEALING WITH STRESS: HOW TO USE STRESS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
Stress is a gift. Too much stress is harmful. Good stress energises us for a task. Sometimes, we have too much stress, we feel ‘stressed-out’, when for example we do not feel in control. We may have dreams of driving a runaway car or bus, etc, with no control. So, try having a healthy level of stress, of motivation for a task.
Remember: “Pressure is for tyres’.
A mouse in front of a mountain of cheese? Nibble away bit by bit.
Cycling uphill? Keep your eye on the wheel on the road.
Climbing a mountain? Watch just what is in front of your feet. Occasionally, stop, look back at how far you have come, and be thankful. Then look at what lies ahead, the whole picture, before resuming a slow measured walk, with eyes on the immediate. Check progress now and again.
Drinking water from a tap? Don’t try to drink the whole lot, just a glass-full at a time.
WHAT IS IN MY CIRCLE OF CONTROL, AND WHAT IS NOT? Draw a circle: in the centre, put in the things I am in control of, and further out, the things I have less control of, or things not in my control. Only the central bit is what I can control, now. Other things lie beyond me for the moment. Tell myself what I can control at this time.
ESSAYS? SPIDER approach to essays: Draw eg. 5 bubbles or clouds, on a page: put a line in the centre of each, with one key word on the centre line in each cloud. From that key word, write other words that relate to it, or flow from it, like spider’s legs. That way you have 5 key words/phrases, with legs! This one page can contain all the information you need if asked to write an essay on a subject. Keep it safe.
TIMETABLE: Set out a plan for your study, with proper rewards along the way: 40 mins, then ten min stretch; 40 mins, then cuppa or drink and biscuit; built-in rewards, things to look forward to. Phone a friend: agree to study in tandem, agree a parallel programme and breaks. Then you know you’re not alone!
A WEEK’S PROGRAMME, listing the Tasks you want to have done by eg. Friday: put a rough length of time with each task, on programme: eg. Hour and half for English literature project.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: Don’t take on the whole army! Divide into manageable bits, which you know you can do in X amount of time. TICK OFF the items as you complete them.
PLAN THE NIGHT BEFORE: Set your programme of work, a start and a finish, and the rewards during it. A bigger reward planned for when you complete the task. Write it out for yourself, and place it in your view. A coloured mark at the end of each item looks good.
EXERCISE: JOGGING, OR BRISK WALK, for 30 mins, increases the oxygen level and you learn twice as much in half the time.
TIME OUT WITH FRIENDS. PLAN THESE TIMES. Enjoy them, and then go back to work happy.
IF YOU FAIL, (and you will!) then pick yourself up and start again. Forgive yourself, if you need to!
TIME IS A GIFT, that we can fritter away like sand through our fingers. I AM IN CONTROL of my time, for the most part. Don’t be rigid,- there may be pressing tasks you have to do, for others or self.
IF YOU ARE SLEEPLESS AND TOSSING, sit on side of bed, WRITE DOWN what’s worrying you, and then put it down and go back to bed.
HAVE THE FEELING THAT YOU ARE IN CONTROL. Know what you are here and now able to control, in the short-term. Write down what you can control. Look at it often.
Use FOLDERS or LARGE ENVELOPES, to keep your work and your notes, what you have written or learned, – including ytour Spider Page! Mark them well. Then you can SEE YOUR PROGRESS. Visit these envelopes often, to show yourself your progress over time.
I cannot do, eg., ALL THE BIOLOGY COURSE, but I can certainly complete one chapter in X amount of time of study: set your target, plan how you will complete this one chapter and have notes taken about it.
TAKE DEEP BREATHS!
SIT BACK, AND TAKE A BREATHER.
BE STILL, MOTIONLESS, AWARE OF BREATHING…
Use your MEDITATION skills,- a quiet 5 minutes, sitting back from the desk, eyes closed, listening to the sounds, being aware of breathing….
TAKE A BREAK! TAKE A KIT-KAT!
Go walk-about for a little while. Stretch the legs. Give oxygen to the brain.
DO NOT TRY TO STUDY FOR TOO LONG A PERIOD! THE BRAIN CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH.
Spend time with your FAMILY! Good relationships are a great help, in times of stress.
Good planning removes a great deal of anxiety. Plan Work, Breaks, Rewards.
Pause for some quiet prayer, occasionally. Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Sometimes the best prayer is wordless! Give thanks at the end of each day.
Remember, -it’s only an exam!!! It’s not life. You are not defined by a mark!
P.S. A half-hour jog or brisk walk stimulates the oxygen in the brain. A quick shower after it, and you may find that you take in a lot more in a half-hour of study than you would take in in twice or three times the amount of time. This from experience!
Séamus Devitt C.Ss.R., Redemptorists, Esker, Athenry
(Séamus worked as Chaplain for eight years in St. Clement’s Redemptorist College, Limerick.)