Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Who are you going to call? Stressbusters

I spotted an interesting article in the September edition of OTN about dealing with stress as a student.  Written by a forensic mental health occupational therapists it illustrates some research into the various coping strategies individuals employ at times of stress.  The top five strategies for dealing with stress were; 
1  talking to friends and family 
2  taking a break
3  exercising
4  seeking help to solve the problem
5  analysing the problem

When I reflect on the above I'm very good at 1 and 2....I'm getting back into 3 after a very long break...pretty good at 5 and very bad at 4!  How about you? 
I feel like the word stress and the concept of being 'stressed' is over used into today's society with people self diagnosing  when things get a bit busy.  Although, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) define stress as the relationship between a person and their environment which is perceived by the individual as exceeding their resources and threatening their well being.  Therefore, everyone seemingly has a different threshold for stress. 
Being a student brings a unique set of stressors - the article describes them as; academic level of coursework, volume of coursework, commitments outside the course, examinations and hours of study required.  Gulp!  Don't be put off!  You have all those coping strategies to use remember - plus your own personal strategies you have developed over the years!  You are in good company too - everyone else on your programme is probably feeling just the same! 
Planning and prioritising is also the key.  And don't suffer in silence - I wasn't very good at visiting my personal tutor while I was a student and would attempt to work things out by myself.  Far less painful to go and talk things through in reality!  Plus don't forget the other popular concept of work life balance.  Something we encourage our service users to achieve but sometimes we overlook on a personal level?  Support each other and enjoy the challenges academic study brings - it is all worth it in the end :-) 

Lazarus RS and Folkman S (1984) Stress, appraisal, and coping.  New York: Springer Publishing Company