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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Managing stress is the new black



Kirjoittanut: Tuuli-Emily Liivat - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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One of our recent training sessions had a central focus on the topic of stress and burnouts, which are common terms for myself. By nature and behaviour, I get easily excited by various opportunities and have difficulty saying no, which have provided some amazing and positive experiences but also a lot of unexpected stress. The current essay aims to explore stress management and primarily acts as a tool of analysing and reflection.

 

Stress.

In a nutshell, stress can be defines as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation (World Health Organization). Everyone experiences stress and it is expected to experience some amount of stress during our lifetimes as it challenges us to move out of our comfort zone. What may create a tricky situation is that different people have different stress tolerance. While short amount or small amounts of stress can improve our performance in daily activities, the failure to recover from stress or prolonged stress may have hurtful benefits to our mind and body.

 

Discussions at the training session.

During the training session, some interesting viewpoints were introduced within the discussion group.

One of the points discussed was keeping a journal as a way to write down your thoughts and feelings to ease your mind by a creative outlet and be able to reflect your thoughts and actions. 1/4th of the participants said they had a habit of journaling. One of the attendees mentioned that they noticed they used a journal when they were mentally at an unease and currently, the journaling has decreased. The reply and discussion that arose stirred my interest as well: what would change if we made writing down our thoughts into a habit and in addition to sharing our turmoil and personal thoughts, also added celebrations and successes?

Another point discussed was that sleep, exercise and eating were the holy trinity of staying sane. While (hopefully) common knowledge, this struck a chord as the writer noted that when things get busier, exercise is the first one off the list to save time and instead incorporate more walking to get fresh air and aid the situation. This could be avoided with managing one’s calendar better and creating a training schedule.

The third point to be brought out is motivation. One of the comments from the attendees was that in order to stay motivated is by scheduling something to look forward to into your day, which is a great idea in the writer’s opinion. This way, your day could be more eventful as you are excited to look forward to something and also have a more positive outlook on the events.

The fourth point was to spend time with yourself, where you allow yourself to be bored and no other distractions exist. This made the writer think as well, since usually, the time for yourself with no distractions amounts to about 30 minutes per day and this should definitely be increased.

The fifth and final point is understanding that all passes. Short-term stress is good for one’s life and mindset as it challenges to look outside the box and step outside of the comfort zone. What should be noted is that having long-term stress or faulty recovering are the aspects that may affect your health in the long run by for example, mental and physical exhaustion. It is important to take care of your health.

 

Personal experience.


Recently, I have been more focused on finding the balance between career, studies and personal life, which inevitably led me down to creating a self-audit. In its core, a self-audit refers to a piece of documentation, where the central idea is to write of yourself in a neutral and objective way. It requires being honest about oneself and involves discussing your values, your habits and everything else ‘describing your being’ encompasses for the writer.

For me, the primary themes discussed were staying aligned with my goals, taking my thoughts into action and personal time. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to having a busy schedule where multiple events and actions can have different themes. As an example, attending the opening of an exhibition would otherwise be classified as personal interest and free time, however, with the task of taking photos to showcase the artist’s work on an organisation’s page or going to the opening with the goal of networking with the visitors for new ventures may quickly change the meaning of ‘free time’. While it is still enjoyable, during busier times, the event may become overwhelming and not bring as much satisfaction or consume more energy.

I am very proud of my skill to be analytical, see the bigger picture and being self-aware. While these skills are strong tools, I am currently lacking on discipline of taking my plans into action. Hopefully, this is a success story I will soon be writing an essay on.

 

Stress management.

Below are proactive steps in reducing stress and learning to manage stress better.

First, one should identify, what brings stress into their lives, find root causes for it and possibly eliminate the sources.
This way, new stress channels can be avoided for the recovery time and alleviation of stress may be negotiated. As an example, watching the news daily may bring more stress than satisfaction. Limiting the time may help in feeling more relaxed. One way to identify stress factors could be by keeping a journal to find patterns and recognize stress factors more easily.

Second, ways of coping with stress should be analysed and possibly replaced with a healthier alternative. Finding easy-fix coping ways may be saving time at first but can have negative effects in the long run. As an example, withdrawal from friends or comfort foods won’t improve your life quality or work on easing the stress factor. Instead, coping methods that will leave you in control and at peace could be explored such as exerciseing to get rid of the nervous energy.

A tool that could be used to improve stress management is looking into the 4 A’s of stress management: Avoid, alter, adapt and accept.
Avoiding unnecessary stress could be exercised by saying no to opportunities and analysing your current to-do lists.
Altering the situation aims to change the way you communicate and operate in your daily life to relieve stress factors.
Adapting to problems could be used by reframing and changing your mindset when approaching a stressful topic and focusing on the big picture rather than the long-term solution.

Finally, accepting that some things cannot be changed and will bring you stress can reduce the anxiety regarding the topic bothering you.

 

After reading the materials and writing the essay, I understand better what are the factors of stress management and how to better manage my stress. I will take the 4A-tool into action.

 

Sources:

Robinson, L and Smith, M.  HelpGuide.org. Stress Management: How to Reduce and Relieve Stress. HelpGuide.  Read on 3.5.2023.
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

 

Krans, B. Nine Ways Stress Is More Dangerous Than You Think. 2016. Healthline Read on 3.5.2023. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-eight-ways-stress-harms-your-health-082713#2.-Stress-can-promote-disease

World Health Organisation. Stress. Read on 4.5.2023
https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/stress#:~:text=What%20is%20stress%3F,experiences%20stress%20to%20some%20degree.

SYNTRE’s training session on stress and burnout, 28.04.2023

 

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