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Stress manegement during finals

There are several misbeliefs regarding stress. One of these is that stress free life is feasible, even more it is desirable. Several psychology theories seem to deny that. According to Yerkes and Dodson, you are able to do your best if your stress level is normal.  If your stress level is very low then you get bored and sleepy. If it is too high you get anxious that cuts off your performance level. Consequently, the goal is to keep stress on an optimal level instead of getting rid of it.

When you are under a lot of stress (e.g. you are about to take a difficult exam that you did not have time to prepare for), you can choose between two options. You either try to change the situation causing stress (e.g. you reschedule your exam date to a later time) or if you cannot do that (e.g. because there is no other date) then you need to accept the situation and also change your behaviour or you need to change the picture that you created about the situation.

See some techniques below that help you to reduce the intensive stress by changing your behaviour or thoughts.

1, Distraction techniques

  • do different activities – do sports, do yoga, take a hobby, clean up, visit a friend, walk, do the gardening, etc.
  • help others – make a nice gesture or a gift to someone, participate in charity work
  • take inverse actions – look for experiences that generate emotions that differ from the present feeling e.g. watching comedies, listening to cheerful music, looking at humorous greeting cards
  • put the problem away – build an imaginary wall between you and the problem
  • distracting thoughts – count to 10, put a puzzle together, watch TV, read
  • get intensive experiences – take a hot shower, listen to loud music

2, Calm yourself – with the help of the five senses

  • seeing – visit a nice place, admire nature, go to a museum, look at a postcard
  • hearing – listen to music, observe the sounds of nature, play on an instrument
  • smelling – try perfumes in a shop, use air freshening, burn an incense, bake a cake, walk in a forest and absorb the fresh smell of the forest
  • tasting – eat or drink something delicious, taste different flavours and acknowledging them at the same time
  • touching- sit in a jacuzzi, pet animals, put on soft clothes, get a massage

3, Change your way of thinking (cognitive techniques)

  • reframing - try to see things from a different point of view (e.g. think over what you can learn from the situation)
  • finding sources – assess which of your characteristics can help to solve the situation successfully; recall an old memory when you successfully solved a similar situation
  • making a schedule – if you divide your task into subtasks while adding a time limit for all of them then the situation will be more clear and your stress level will reduce.

Written by Andrea Ritzl