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Although we all need stress in our lives to remain motivated, sustained periods of excess stress can lead to problems. The combined stressors of university and a busy life places demands on our personal resources. When the perceived demands of a task outweigh the perceived resources to deal with it our stress level rises and we may become anxious, fatigued and pre-occupied with a fear of failure.
Any number of factors may be leading to a higher level of stress. Ask yourself if any of the following are true for you.
All of these factors either reduce our level of perceived resources for coping with demands or increase the level of demands on us.
The feeling of being overwhelmed is different than simply feeling under stress. It is often accompanied by a perception of being powerless to change a situation and feeling 'frozen' in terms of being able to act. Even when things seem to be overwhelming for us, there are quite a few things you can do to reduce the stress a few notches and help you to cope.
Don't expect to write the perfect essay, to be the perfect parent or partner. Remind yourself that you are doing what you can with the things you can control. Allow yourself to make some errors and ask for help from tutors, lecturers, friends or family. Being realistic with yourself will help you to be clear and set limits with others.
Once you are clear on your goal, ask yourself which part of the problem you do have control over, which part you don't and which part you can get help with. Focus your energy on what you can change and ask for clarification or support where it is possible to do so.
Sometimes when we see a demand as very important, we see only the big picture which can make us feel very small or we think we are not up to the task. Try taking a 'salami' approach and 'slice' the problem into clear specific tasks. This will help you plan your time and plot your progress.
You may be simply attempting too much. Reduce your commitments where you can and prioritise only your most important tasks.
No one is perfect when it comes to this point but even fairly short periods of neglecting your health will lead to exhaustion when stressed. You need to eat regularly and get adequate (6-8 hrs) sleep. Exercise and regular short breaks will also help boost your energy levels.
Remember, there are trained counsellors available through Student Life. If you are finding ongoing difficulty sleeping, are having recurring negative thoughts or experiencing teary-ness or emotional upset, it is wise to speak to a professional.
Make an appointment with a Counsellor at Deakin