♬ Do you ever feel... like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind... ♫
Well I think most of us don't, but all of us definitely feel this at one point or another:
With all the different commitments, expectations & obstacles we face, it's impossible to never feel stressed!
Sometimes juggling everything can become really tiring & exasperating...
According to the National Youth Survey (2010), the top 4 stressors youths faced were:
1) Future uncertainty
2) Family relationships
4) Emerging adult responsibility
#1 & #4 speak to me especially now, because I graduate in a few months! T_T
For all you youngsters facing O or ALevels, don't forget lao niang (me lah) has been through it too!
These are the 2 major exams in our lives for many of us (OLevels at least) & it can get pretty hectic.
I remember one girl in my Secondary school class started hyperventilating in class one day O.O
The teachers made her breathe into a paper bag so that her breathing would resume a normal pace.
I never had a panic attack like that, but there were many times where I would be so stressed out & frustrated (especially when I'm struggling to solve/understand a concept) that I would just end up bawling T_T
Or banging on the printer....
So I know sometimes when the going gets tough, you just feel like...
I know a big part of stress comes from having to deal with so many expectations on you!
Your own, your parents', society's...
I remember being so, so, so scared when I was collecting my OLevel results!
I started crying even BEFORE I got them...
All my friends thought I was crying because I had done badly so they were kinda like...
-_- -_- -_-
...when they realised I hadn't even gotten them haha
And stress doesn't just end at those few major exams :(
This is the thickness of the reading materials for ONE of my university modules... :/
Stress is everywhere in our lives, not just when it comes to school!
We face stress at work, at our CCAs, in friendships, family ties, relationships... the list is endless.
So I'm here today to talk about how you can deal with it! :D
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Whenever you're feeling stressed, one thing you should remember to do is C.O.P.E.S!
Whenever you start to feel stressed, stop what you're doing for a bit.
Take a few deep breaths & calm yourself down!
Try closing your eyes, taking deep breaths & just focusing your mind on those deep breaths.
This will help clear your mind to re-focus on a task afterwards!
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Think of all the possible solutions & options you have for your situation & list them down!
No problem is ever too large to solve.
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Think positive! You can't solve a problem if you only think negative things about your situation.
Have confidence in yourself & tell yourself that you will be able to solve it.
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Explore all the options you listed down previously!
Consider the pros & cons of each option, select the best one & make a genuine effort to solve your problem. Take action to reduce your problem! Defeatist attitudes never helped anyone.
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Lastly if you still feel lost, need someone else's advice or simply want a listening ear...
Speak to people you trust, like your family, friends, teachers, counsellors...
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Here are some other tips as well to help organise your life & deal with problems one thing at a time!
(P.S. Last year's planner, I'm not going to Phuket hahaha. Quick getaways are also good to de-stress!)
Plan your time & activities! This will help you keep on top of everything. Here are some things to do:
* Make to-do lists! The feeling of ticking/canceling each item is awesome
* Keep a calendar/schedule & remember to include leisure time for yourself :)
* Divide larger/more difficult tasks into smaller sub-tasks
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Personally when I study I like to create little milestones for myself. The human attention span is pretty short, so aiming to complete e.g. 3 large tasks (chapters, assignments, papers...) in a day can seem daunting & depressing if not accomplished. Instead I set really mini goals for myself to keep the pace going without wanting to tear my hair out :D
Complete 2 pages of a reading & I get to check Twitter updates.
Finish one section of a reading & I get to play one short iPhone game.
You get the gist! You don't have to worry about spending too long on your e.g. Twitter "reward" because you do it so periodically such that each time there isn't that much new to see haha.
The aim is to have very short rewards (in terms of time) for shorter tasks!
Here's one example of one of my self-"rewards"!
I let myself decorate one coloured marker each time haha.
The key is to indulge in little activities that you enjoy & help break the monotony! :)
At the same time I also like to keep my study/work materials colourful & engaging to cheer myself up.
Therefore I somewhat enjoy using different colors in my notes & doing little doodles sometimes.
These are all things that can be made into "rewards" too.
Like here! I stuck dinosaur stickers on a reading I had to do for a presentation :)
It instantly looks less dreary!
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Remember to eat & sleep well too! A balanced diet & regular hydration help keep your body & mind sharp to improve your focus. Exercise is also a good way to reduce stress as it releases endorphins!
Remember to set realistic goals for yourself, which can be raised each time you achieve a new target.
Mistakes are not failures - learn from them so that you will do even better the next time.
I know parental expectations may be particularly hard to deal with, so if they are unrealistic you need to speak calmly with them, explaining your current abilities & goals to come to a middle ground.
If your parents see that you are putting in effort to achieve a reasonable goal then they will have more confidence that you can be trusted to handle your own problems :) Involve them in the process to make them feel better by telling them how they can help, even if it's simple/indirect things like engaging a tuition teacher for you or cooking meals & ensuring you are not disturbed.
Whatever it is you're going through, many have gone through before you & many more will follow.
So no problem is ever too big or too difficult to solve! Remember that you're not alone :)
Check out Breathe.sg for all their tips on coping with stress!
Here are just some of the examples:
You can also find them on Facebook, where they actively post tips & hold contests/giveaways!
Think positive & combat stress! :)