Being a student can be immensely stressful. Between exams, assignments, and materials, it can especially become overwhelming for students applying for college, graduate school, or moving up. While stress cannot always be completely eliminated from our everyday lives, we can build a resistance and a better relationship with ourselves if we are aware. As a current tutor now, here are some stress awareness tips I incorporate to help my students recognize and manage their own stress. Whether you are an educator or a student, these tips can be incorporated to better help manage emotions and schedule needed tasks without letting anxiety get in the way.
At its base, stress is a chemical response to any stimuli, event or situation that creates pressure. Stress is not inherently bad. In many aspects of life, stress can actually help motivate us to complete deadlines or stay on top of ourselves. However, like anything else, too much stress can result in overwhelming feelings of anxiety, panic, hazy memory, or even depression. So, it is important to pay attention to stress levels, and take note of it.
Students endure a lot. Since we can never be too sure of what one individual may be going through, it is important to pay attention. Check in on yourself periodically, especially during busy times. Here are some example questions:
As a tutor, this means asking my students how they are doing, and having an understanding of their deadlines. In general, it is good to understand when their assignments are due, and what weeks might be the most challenging. Another aspect of this is paying attention. Notice the little things– as a tutor, this means noticing when the energy levels are different. Are they carrying themselves differently? Does the student appear tired? Instead of getting frustrated with lack of participation, examine it from another perspective.
Similarly, if you notice you’re moving slower, having a harder time with memory, take a break and do something else. Or, note your frustration and feelings with a parental figure or counselor. Little breaks can be phenomenal in helping us retain information, as it allows us to briefly decompress. It may sound cliche, but doing other activities can help alleviate built-up pressure. Getting rid of the built-up pressure can allow us to return to the stressful task and successfully complete it. So, take a break. Go on a walk, work-out, do yoga, or journal. In other words, do something cathartic that will help release the tension within the mind and body. For some, this can be working out, whereas for others, it can be very mental.
Building stress awareness is significantly easier with boundaries. The more respect that is given to a boundary, the easier it is to notice when it is being crossed. So, have a study schedule and stick to it. When the study session ends, don’t keep your stress with you. For instance, if you are studying late in the night and find yourself nodding off, maybe it’s time to call it quits. Knowing when to stop is crucial to success. Will there be some times that more effort might be required? Absolutely, but acknowledging limits is crucial for success.
Limits are not the only things that should be acknowledged. In learning anything difficult, the little achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated, even if only for a second. In terms of self-acknowledgement, keep a keen eye on your own study progress. Don’t let pressure get you down. For instance, if a score improved slightly– that’s great! It shows progress, and progress is actualized potential.
In terms of acknowledgement as a teacher, all it requires is observation and authenticity. For example, when my students are notably improving on SAT reading, I make sure to call it out. Academic pressure can be difficult, and the pressure to succeed can feel overwhelming. So, acknowledging the small wins are indicators that lets students know they are on the right track.
Paying attention to only the flaws can negatively affect us and our abilities to test well. So, embrace impartiality with a smidge of positivity.
Usually, I notice that time is something that can get squandered by distractions, anxiety, or stress. For some anxious students, time can get eaten away by nervous questions and getting distracted. In fact, one of the biggest factors I have noticed in anxious students is that they believe either that there is a lack of time, or that they have no plan. So an easy resolution is to create an approach– within a schedule. As scary as it might initially sound, building a schedule with times designated for studying certain topics can eradicate or ameliorate some stress. If it appears too daunting, that’s ok! Find a friend or parent to help you with your schedule! Having any plan is almost always better than having no plan. Plus, the inclusion of a plan also means that when breaks are needed, guilt is less likely to occur. Why? Because there is a sense of awareness and preparedness.
As a tutor, time visibility can help students manage anxiety as well. For example, letting a student know the plan is always helpful. This can look like a lot of different things, but it usually means explaining what the lesson is covering, and the time frame given for particular sections in the session.. In fact, falling in a routine is wonderful; it allows a student to build a sense of time, which can be incredibly useful down the line.
On a smaller note, try to incorporate smaller goals to assess progress. Although it might sound counterintuitive at first, having clarity can clear up anxiety. Stress can vary in its appearances, but comes from the feeling of being overwhelmed or pressure. How am I going to accomplish this, what am I going to do, etc. These are questions that can be easily answered by having a clear schedule.
It’s important that not everything can be solved overnight by simply having a schedule or completely adopting these systems.. Stress is not necessarily something that just completely goes away. Nevertheless, stress can be a very manageable part of our lives, and does not have to be an overwhelming percentage of it. In fact, incorporating these methods can help tremendously with easing stress and at least becoming acquainted with it, in a healthy way. Building stress awareness can help us become more in-tune with ourselves, others, and adequately plan our futures, without all the anxiety.
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