LEAP: Emotional Balance and Reducing Stress
Maintaining a sense of emotional balance is essential for achieving college success. Advisors often encounter students who worry too much, criticize too much, get angry often, hold frustration inward, place blame and experience painful events. Such blend of negative emotions can lead to inefficiency. Inefficiency can trigger a cycle of negative emotions: you begin to worry about your probation and the need to earn a "B" or better in each course. You worry about the amount of assignments and tests that must be completed for your courses. You worry about whether you can fit in enough time to study. You worry about what will happen if you don't get the work done which triggers even more worrying. The "worry circle" below demonstrates how this emotion can enter into your psyche.
Emotion at the center with the following phrases moving around it:
- Assignment deadlines
- Paying bills on time
- being unorganized
- Not graduating on time
- Possible suspension
- Failing my exam
After spending hours attending classes, studying, working, cooking, cleaning, caring for family or self, is there any energy left? Many people find energy through artificial means, cigarettes, supplements, caffeine, alcohol or even drugs. However, such habits can reduce energy levels and lead to more serious problems. There are many approaches to help build energy and alleviate stress. And, it is extremely important to eliminate as much stress out of our lives as possible. How can stress be eliminated when our multi-faceted lifestyles keep us constantly on the go? How can we prevent our energies from being stripped by stress-producing factors?
When asked to list as many spontaneous stress busters as possible, a sample of academic advisors indicated the following:
Of course, an effective way to increase energy is to eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins and breads. We have all heard the saying that "health is wealth." It's true. Eating healthy foods not only can increase our energy levels but add years to our lives. So, bon appetit!
In the book titled How to Study in College: 2nd Edition 2, the author lists some tension releasers.
- Talk it out When you are worried, it is a good idea to talk things over with someone. It is not a good idea to bottle up your worries. Instead, talk with a person who can be objective and who you can trust, such as an academic advisor or personal counselor.
- Escape for a while When problems mount, it is best to get away from the problem or situation for a while or lose yourself in some pleasant activity. If you are in class, go outside for a fresh breath of air or a refreshing cold drink. If at home, take a long and relaxing bath or go to bed early to rest your mind. The idea is to engage yourself in a more pleasant situation by physically removing yourself from the worry or negative situation.
- Channel your anger If you find yourself losing control and really letting go of your emotions, remember that even though the action may give you a sense of power or surge of energy, it is only temporary. In the end you will find that the problem or situation still exists. Instead of lashing out, a better approach is to take a deep breath, visualize a better way to handle the situation and assert your control in a tactful way. Instead of "telling a person off" who has stepped over the line, find a tactful and peaceful way to confront the person without compromising your own dignity and self-control. It is better to think that what a person says, does not matter to your self-worth and sense of self-esteem, and to tell him rather than use profanity. You will walk away feeling more satisfied that you spoke your mind in a more controlled way.
- Give in occasionally If you find yourself getting into frequent debates or arguments, try standing your ground only on what you sincerely believe is right, but do so calmly and make allowances for the fact that you could be wrong. Even if you are absolutely right, it is easier on your system to give in to matters that are fundamentally unimportant. The result will be a release from tension and frustration. Surprisingly this modest and subtle approach can lead to discussions instead of arguments. If the argument persists, it is best to simply walk away which will also give you a sense of control.
- Do something for others Volunteersim and giving back are values of importance that helps to keep individuals grounded. Doing for others can be defined in many ways and can have reciprocating rewards. It can be as simple as helping a neighbor with a chore or helping a school-aged child with homework.
ACTIVITY: What strategies do you use to reduce stress? Be realistic about approaches that work for you.