Taking the stress out of stress

You have a paper due for each class, every spare moment is spent studying for the upcoming midterms, your significant other has been texting you madly about not spending enough time together, and your parents keep calling you to ask why you haven’t called. You don’t even have enough energy left to think about final exams rearing their ugly faces in less than two months. All you want to do right now is crawl into bed and forget about it all.

You are stressed out and looking for something to scratch off your to-do list. What happened to the days where the things you wanted to do outnumbered the things you had to do?

Here is the guaranteed reality about stress: it’s not going anywhere. There is always going to be a certain amount of pressure in your life, at all times. The harsh truth is, you are not always going to be able to drop things that have to be done in order to gain some relief from stress.

Right now it’s probably schoolwork, exams, and work that leave you feeling like things are out of control. In a few years, it’s going to be career demands, student debt, a mortgage, and maybe even kids that keep you on your feet.

Stress seems to be a word used these days to describe the things in life that cause us problems or that we just don’t like. It seems like one of those many over-used words-of-the-day, but stress can actually cause ailments and problems. It can attribute to strokes, and heart disease, high blood pressure, as well as causing immune and circulatory problems right down to the more obvious issues like weight gain and disrupted sleep.

When combined with an unhealthy lifestyle of little exercise and bad food choices, stress can at times have fatal consequences. According to a 2011 study by Statistics Canada, 25 per cent of females and 22 per cent of males between the ages of 20 and 34 reported that most of their days were stressful. So in a world where it seems to be that stress is just becoming more commonplace, the answer seems that it’s not about de-stressing your life, but instead about embracing the stress and learning to manage it effectively.

Managing stress properly begins with a little bit of mental housekeeping. Here are a few things that you can do to help keep your mood up and your stress levels down:

Exercise for at least 30–40 minutes a day. This doesn’t have to be a Mr. Olympia style workout; it can be as simple as a walk through the park while drinking in and appreciating nature.

Try to get a proper and consistent amount of sleep as many nights of the week as possible.

Stop being a yes-man/woman and a people-pleaser. If you’re short on time and someone is asking for a favour, don’t be afraid to say no to avoid overloading your schedule.

Prioritize. This means deciding what is important and sticking to it. Don’t forget that priorities shift over time, so this will be something that changes.

Take a vitamin B complex. The 11 members of the vitamin B family are responsible for improving memory, lifting depression, boosting energy, easing anxiety and even alleviating PMS symptoms. If you’re not eating a dark-green-vegetable-rich diet, this is your next best thing.

Do something fun once a week. It can’t be all work and no play, that would drive anyone nuts. If cash is tight, don’t stress out; there are plenty of free or cheap things going on around town during any given week, such as free swims at local recreation centres, or poetry and open mic nights at local coffee shops. Volunteer work can even be fun, and may even find a place on your resumé.

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