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Managing stress

Professor Cary Cooper, from the University of Lancaster states that; "In life, there's always a solution to a problem”.

Stress is an emotional response to being under unusual pressure. This could be caused by an increased workload from school, a tricky revision period, an important sporting fixture or even a disagreement with a friend or family member. Interestingly, stress shouldn’t always be seen as a negative, research from Yale University has found that low levels of stress can make us more alert and help us perform better in a variety of situations. Here are 6 easy and effective ways of reducing stress.


The Mental Health Foundation suggests that a great way to reduce the stress is to try and relate your situation with something you have experienced before. By familiarising yourself with the situation, you are able to recycle your previous coping strategies to help you deal with this current problem. A great question to ask yourself is, how is this situation similar to what I have experienced before?


By being proactive, we can manage and control our stressful situations by doing things ahead of time. This could be planning your revision schedule before a busy exam period which might include clear working time-slots and defined periods of relaxation or exercise. See our blog for 6 productive ways to reduce revision stress. To best deal with stress, it is better to be proactive rather reactive, as being proactive reduces the risk of procrastination. When you have something that you need to be doing, like homework or getting yourself down the gym, it’s natural for you to delay that behaviour by watching TV or going on your phone. Research has found that procrastination is a prime environment for unhelpful thoughts to lead to stress. Ask yourself before potentially difficult circumstances, how could I improve this situation and make it easier for myself to perform better?


Treat the task put in-front of you as an opportunity to improve and not as a threat. Reframing isn’t the process of pretending everything is fine when it’s not, it’s about finding a new way of perceiving a tricky situation. This process allows you to implement a growth mind-set, this way of thinking allows you to approach tasks in a different way, not by placing importance on avoiding mistakes, but by placing importance on learning from each opportunity. Research from Dr Carol Dweck, a leading Psychologist at Stanford University, states that we all have the ability to improve. She goes onto to show how we can only improve if we take the opportunity to put ourselves into situations where mistakes are likely to occur. Ask yourself, can I use this situation to learn? Or can learning from this situation help me improve?


Always look for the best outcome the situation can provide you with. What could this social interaction do for me? Even if I don’t get this job, how can this interview process help me in the future? Creating scenarios like this before or during sticky situations can immediately help you see the benefits of each situation you experience. Researchers at the University of California and the University of Pittsburgh, found that by avoiding the opportunity to challenge yourself leads to less creativity, over-focus on winning and the avoidance of mistakes, and also a tendency to become increasingly conservative in your approach to learning.


Don’t struggle in silence, by talking to parents, teachers, coaches, friends and family will help you develop a team around you that can support your development. One of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, Phil Jackson once said that ‘the strength of the team is the individual. The strength of the individual is the team’. We think this is definitely true. A team is comprised of individuals. If we help each individual to maximise their talents, then the team gets stronger. However, it is the support, advice and guidance of the team that can help the individuals develop their skills. Having access to a supportive network of individuals who can offer you social support has been found to act as a stress buffer and improve coping.


When you’re really tired, everything seems that little bit worse. It’s really important to have a good sleep. Have a look at our blog on how to sleep your way to success. Sleep is important for everyone. Teachers, reportedly, only average about 6 hours sleep a night (well below the recommended average of about 8 hours). Students who sleep better have been found to get significantly higher grades (about half a grade's difference). Likewise, athletic performance decreases if athletes don’t get enough sleep, as their reaction times are significantly reduced.