According to the American Institute of Stress, “Learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with these situations can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life.”
Life by itself can be a challenge. It is that way for everyone. Because of this, it is important to know how to balance priorities with available time and energy, so you do not extend yourself. Stress is one of the ways our bodies tell us that you have done exactly that.
As young adults, college is a challenge, but the world outside of college will present more challenges and those challenges will be more complicated. Now is the time to learn how to cope with stressors, especially when there are so many resources available to you on this campus.
Pam Meyer, the Wellness Director at the Benedictine Living Community in Wahpeton, N.D., says because we are all so different, we will experience stress in different ways. This translates into the lack of a specific definition for stress. However, here are some ways she says in which stress can and may appear in your daily life:
- feelings of sadness, frustration and helplessness
- difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- headaches, back pain and stomach issues
When faced with stressful situations, some of the strategies you can use to relieve that stress:
- recognize when you don’t have control, let it go
- avoid getting anxious about situations you cannot change
- take control of your reactions and concentrate your mind on something that keeps you calm
- develop a vision for healthy living, wellness and personal growth, and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision
The theme for April 2022 is ‘community’. Community is more than just a geographical location on a map like the City of Fargo, it is a sense of belonging and a sense of connecting to others. There are a multitude of studies that show that people who are more social, or have better social connections, tend to be happier, more physically healthy and live longer. As one might expect, being more of a loner, or lonely in general, has negative impacts.
Taking on an activity, hobby or volunteering is a great way to bring ‘community’ into your life and become a more social being. Volunteering, in particular, will focus your attention outwards on a group or individuals representing a cause.
There are multiple benefits to this type of activity. First, it gets you involved with people. Next, it gets multiple people who are focused on the same project or goal working together. Lastly, it gets those same people more focused on helping others with their issues which may help put your issues into perspective. All these benefits equal a more balanced outlook at your life’s experiences and the experiences of others.
We are all individuals with unique skill sets, to go with our unique experiences. Each and every one of us has had our turn at doing the wrong thing or miscalculating something with others almost daily. Having said that, we are social beings and being around people makes us happier, healthier and more interesting to those we meet. According to Meyer, here are some long-term activities to reduce stress. What will work for you?
- Take care of yourself — eat healthy, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, give yourself a break if you feel stressed.
- Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a family member, friend, doctor, pastor or counselor (it is alright to talk about it, really.)
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
- Recognize when you need more help — know when to talk to a psychologist, social worker or counselor if things continue.
Finally, as stated in the opening paragraph, life presents enough challenges for all of us. Two years plus of a world-wide pandemic has just added to the burden that daily life can be. Use this month of April and the attention and awareness being directed at stress, and help yourself and those around you become the happier, healthier and better person we all can be. It isn’t always easy, but if you work on it, it can happen.