Post #83 Stress Overwhelm
Many engineering students live with anxiety, tension and stress overwhelm. I addressed a similar topic in Post #09, offering suggestions to help with chronic worry. Here, I define stress and offer tips to help you understand one of the ways to manage it.
What is Stress?
Simply, stress is a feeling. It may be a horrible, sucky feeling that you cannot seem to shake, nonetheless, it is ONLY a feeling. Why is this important? Because feelings themselves can never harm you. A feeling is an arrangement of tissues in the body at a given moment. The way these tissues arrange themselves is based on your thinking. This is a basic lesson in psychology: thoughts create feelings, feelings are vibrations inside the body. This can be a powerful tool for you to label stress as a feeling knowing feelings cannot hurt. The anticipation and the rejection of negative feelings often cause more stress than stress itself. It could be very helpful to recognize that stress overwhelm is nothing more than an uncomfortable vibration in your body.
Ineffective Stress Management Options
Since we know stress is simply a feeling, it is beneficial to understand the variety of ways we choose to deal with feelings. I will name a few self-destructive ways we tend to ‘deal’ with our feelings. One, you could run or hide from them. This includes ignoring, deflecting onto others or trying to sweep under the rug. The longer you avoid, the more intense your stress will become. Second, you could resist stress – kind of like trying to hold a giant beach ball underwater. That method won’t last and it wastes a lot of energy. Third, you could substitute stress for something that feels better: instant gratification. Substitution can take on many disguises: overeating, oversleeping, overdrinking, gossip, obsession, hoarding, blaming, people-pleasing, etc. These are only a few examples of how not to deal with stress.
How to Handle Stress
Stress overwhelm can be a chronic shadow, following you to class, outings and to bed as you try to sleep. One of the best things you can do when experiencing stress: allow it. What does that mean? It’s a multi-step process. First, recognize it for what it is (a feeling) and understand how to identify it for you. Becoming familiar with stress overwhelm starts the process of dominating it. Second, carry stress with you, as if it’s a heavy purse, an ugly pimple or a broken limb. Allow stress to be present at your side as opposed to hiding or substituting. Third, do NOT let it stop you. Continue with your tasks, your living and your studying. Stress overwhelm is no excuse to get in the way of your productivity; it is simply one bump (of many) in your long journey.
For additional tools and brain exercises to help you manage your COVID-19 circumstances, visit my YouTube video: Managing Student Life During COVID-19