School can be a stressful time, as we all know. The external pressures we, as students feel that causes this stress and challenges our mental health are substantial. These pressures could be financial, peer, family, or possibly the most extreme pressure and cause of your stress is internal. And school is just one aspect of our lives as students. Maybe you have a job, maybe you have two, maybe you play competitive sports, or maybe you are part of a club. All of these other commitments take time and energy and cause stress to each and every one of us.
Stress is a normal human reaction. Our bodies are programmed to experience and react to stress. And you know the common physical symptoms of stress, I won’t waste your time and list them, but it is very important to understand how to successfully manage your own stress. Why? Because continued activation of stress responses and long-term chronic stress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, social withdrawal, or dramatic changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Stress is not the only factor or causation of mental illness, other factors can include genetic, psychological or physical trauma and environmental exposure.
The first step is to acknowledge that stress or mental illness exist, and the second is deciding to address it. Brock University is known for their excellent mental health and wellness services. You can find any and all information at this link: https://brocku.ca/social-sciences/psychology/resources/mental-health-and-wellness/. Whether you are looking for in-person or over the phone support from mental health workers or even professionals psychologists, they will provide the necessary support for you.
If you feel like those services might be too overwhelming or intimidating at first, there are other ways to support yourself or other people you think might be struggling. In my experience, talking with friends or family can really help, exercise is an excellent stress reducer, relaxation activities such as meditation or yoga, breathing exercises, eating healthy, and getting consistent sleep are all very important in managing stress and mental health. But there are three more tips that I wish I had learned sooner and can hopefully help you right now; stay positive and acknowledge the good parts of your day and your life because when you focus on the good parts, the bad ones seem less overwhelming. Accept that you can’t control everything because you just can’t, so find ways to worry less about these uncontrollable situations. And finally, surround yourself with good people. Stay connected to your friends, family, partners, or co-workers that support you, that make you happy, and are good listeners so that you don’t have to go through it on your own.
I am by no means an expert on stress or mental health, and I have definitely not covered nearly a fraction of its research, but I hope that if you are still reading this, you have taken something from it. Even if it is as simple as a reminder to check on yourself or your friends and family members, especially during these stressful and difficult times. I encourage you to reach out to anyone, friends, family, a mental health and wellness service if you are experiencing prolonged stress or mental illness. Take care of yourself, first and foremost but, and I will end with one of my favourite lines; be kind to people because you never really know what internal demons or battles someone is going through.