This peaceful lake is a perfect spot to relax from the stress of finals.

It is 2 weeks until the end of the semester and tensions are high in anticipation for break. It may seem that stress is unavoidable this time of year, but fortunately there are methods to overcome these feelings. This post will address the difference between good and bad stress and offer stress management techniques.

As adults many of us make the automatic association of stress with negative feelings and experiences: work, school, relationships, deadlines, etc. A majority of our lives are structured around commitments that are mentally and physically strenuous. Though some of these commitments are obligations, we have the capacity to choose how we handle stressful situations. Feeling overwhelmed from time-to-time may be inevitable, but it is also completely natural.
“Bad” stress is unfortunately the more familiar form such as an ever approaching project deadline, disagreements with a significant other, working overtime. Situations vary according to our lifestyles and it’s not unusual to feel alone in some of these circumstances. Perspective is largely a factor in overcoming negative stressful feelings. Tips will be offered later on how you can start reshaping your state of mind to stay calm under pressure.
However, “good” stress exists and it is likely that we have unknowingly experienced this form at some point. Though it seems contradictory, good stress is present in (to name a few) positive life changing events, trainings for peak performance and when striving to achieve goals.

It is important to first identify what your sources of stress are so you can find effective ways of confronting the negative impacts they have on your life. You have the freedom to choose whether or not to confront any stress in your life. The following are a few suggestions to take into consideration if you ever find yourself seeking support or reassurance:

1) Make time for yourself. We often overlook when we need to take a breather. Find time to do something you enjoy doing on your own. This allows us a moment to reflect and detach from outside stimulation.
2) Learn how to say “no”. Don’t over commit. Know what opportunities are in your greatest interest and filter out those that don’t really interest you.
3)  Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
4) Smile! We’ve all heard it before, but laughter is the best medicine. Surround yourself with people who make you smile and learn to laugh at yourself every once in a while.
–Hannah Pollack
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