Ways of Managing Stress in Our Daily Life

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LSE Student Counselling Service

Stress Management Workshop Handout

A.

Introduction to Stress

B.

Ways of managing stress

Escape…
Physical relaxation through activity
Self care
Time management skills
Build a support network
C.

Challenging Negative Thinking

1.

Identifying your negative thoughts

2.

Changing negative thoughts

What is the evidence?
What alternative views are there?
What is the effect of thinking the way that I do?
What thinking errors am I making?
What action can I take?
3.

Positive coping talk

D.

Family of Origin and Assertiveness Skills

1

LSE Student Counselling Service
Stress Management Workshop
A.

Introduction to Stress

Study itself is potentially very stressful with many different and sometimes conflicting pressures – reading complex technical or theoretical material, writing assignments for deadlines, working part time, having a ‘successful’ social life, family demands………perhaps peaking near the exams…...which themselves explicitly test your performance under pressure by setting strict time conditions and removing potential resources such as books, colleagues, notes etc.

Study can also challenge your ideas of who you are, who you think you are or who you want to be, lead you to compare yourself with others, who maybe look like they have everything under control (not always the case by any means). Any change or transition, even a welcome one is stressful and study involves lots of transitions in addition to other life events: for example, moving to another country, or another part of the country, meeting new people, different expectations from teachers – and each academic year brings changes – different topics, lecturers, perhaps new housemates – changes which should not be underestimated.

B.

Ways of managing stress

You probably already have a number of ways of managing stressful situations so some of what follows will be familiar. Or you may know some of the ways in theory, but haven’t ever put them into practice. Here are some examples, but don’t get into the habit of thinking there is a ‘right’ way to manage stress, otherwise you might end up stressing yourself over this as well!

i)

Escape…

Sometimes it is helpful to remove yourself physically or mentally from the situation. This is likely to be a temporary rather than a long term solution. Its success depends on genuinely switching off and as a result feeling refreshed eg A warm scented bath

Guided visualisations eg close your eyes and imagine yourself on a remote tropical island, away from it all
Going for a walk
Going out with friends
Cinema, TV, listening to music
Meditation
A regular ‘escape’ activity can restore some balance into your pressured life

2

ii)

Physical relaxation through activity

This can work by releasing pent up energy, boosting confidence, increasing levels of ‘feel good’ hormones in your system eg
Running, jogging or walking
Yoga or Martial arts eg tai kwondo, tai chi, judo
Dancing
Team sports
Swimming
Progressive muscle relaxation techniques
Importantly, find something you enjoy doing and perhaps persuade someone to join you so you can encourage each other
iii)

Self care

Helps energy levels as well as self esteem eg
Adequate sleep
Balanced diet
Drinking sufficient water
Monitor caffeine, sugary foods, alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs Think about using breathing exercises or spending 10 minutes resting quietly at some points in the day.
iv)

Time management skills

Much pressure is caused by feeling you have too many demands and too little time – a classic stress equation. How to reduce the demands or increase the time? eg Prioritise ruthlessly. Cut out anything that is not important but do not cut out all escape and physical activities and do not cut out sleep. These are important! At very pressured times like exams or deadlines it may include cutting down on some social contacts, housework, shopping,...
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