Hello my Socratica Friends! We’re here to
help you be a GREAT student. Hey…are you doing okay? You look a little…stressed. Not all stress is bad. When it’s something
really important, a little stress can help us rise to the challenge. It can actually
make us better students, more focused on our tasks. You SHOULD take it seriously when you
have a big test, or an important presentation. But you can’t be stressed every single day.
It can get to be overwhelming, and instead of stimulating our minds, we shut down, get
sick, and perform poorly in our studies. Our work suffers, and we suffer. Today, let’s talk about how to manage your
stress so it can play a small, beneficial role in your life. The solution is not to have ZERO stress in
your life. If you didn’t care about anything, you wouldn’t accomplish anything. But a
lot of the time, all those worries are a needless complication in your life, and CAN be avoided.
Here are some of the most common sources of stress for students – some of which can be
eliminated, or at least minimized. For example, if you have a bad habit of procrastinating,
that can lead to unnecessary, stressful situations. Some people procrastinate because of an unspoken
fear of failure. They avoid studying for that test or writing that paper. After all, if
they put it off, they can blame their poor performance on factors out of their control
by saying they just ran out of time. But the truth is, they never really gave themselves
the chance to do well. In fact, they set themselves up for failure. Sound familiar? Sometimes it looks like you’re procrastinating
because you just lack awareness of time constraints – you’ve never really tried to budget your
time. For example, we know that cramming doesn’t work. You really can’t study effectively
when you try to cram in all your studying in the last four hours before the test. But
it might surprise you that around four hours is all you really need, as long as you break
it into 30 minute chunks. Now, that means you have to start studying about a week before
your test. Work backwards from your due date, and be honest with yourself about how much
time you can devote to this task. Time management is SUCH a big topic, we’ll
tackle it in its own video. But this tip should be enough to get you started. By the way,
if you are looking forward to more videos from Socratica, consider supporting us on
Patreon. We love making these videos for you, and if you find value in them, help us make
more with a small monthly donation. Now what was I talking about? Are you always forgetting things, like deadlines
and due dates? That’s the worst feeling, when something sneaks up on you. Attack it
at the source. Make a to-do list – a rough outline for the month, a little more detailed
for the week, and very detailed for today. This will help you get rid of that cloud of
anxiety hovering over your head – that giant mental list of things to do looks far more
feasible when it’s down on paper. Mindfulness is the latest buzzword for reducing
stress. This isn’t a new concept – having control of your thoughts is a powerful way
to get a handle on your stress. Think of it as developing your mental discipline. Most
people recommend breathing exercises, focusing on your breath, and when you get distracted,
drawing your focus back to your breath. But ironically, some people get MORE anxious when
focusing on their breath, so it backfires. If that’s true for you, pick something else
to focus on. A flower arrangement, a beautiful picture, a candle flame. Don’t beat yourself
up for being distracted! The very act of catching your mind wandering and bringing it back to
focus – that’s the whole point of meditation. Try it for 10 minutes a day for a week, and
see if you don’t notice an impact. I think you will. Are you always late for class? Late for appointments?
Late for life? Don’t you hate that panicky feeling, and the shame of letting people down?
Don’t be that person. Show respect for other people’s time and get yourself there on
time. This is another AVOIDABLE source of stress. You’re going to tackle this just like your
problem with procrastination – start with the time you have to be someplace, and
work backwards. Your study session is at 2 PM. It takes you
15 minutes to get there, so you think you can leave at 1:45? No. Nope. You’re fooling
yourself! It’s going to take you at least 5 minutes to park and walk in. And another
5 minutes at your house to find your keys and pet your dog on your way out. So you’d
better leave at 1:30. Trust me. Round up all your time estimates. Traffic/ red lights/accidents-
they’re always going to be there. Keep working backwards. You know you have to eat before
you go. You think it takes you 10 minutes to eat, 15 minutes to cook, so start lunch
at 1, right? Wrong. It takes you 20 minutes to eat, 20 minutes to cook, 10 minutes to
clean up. Start lunch at ..hmm..12:30. Again, I’m rounding up. You don’t want to be
wolfing down your food – that’s not healthy. Give yourself this time. Let’s try another one. You know you need
to go to class at 10AM in the morning? When should you wake up, and when should you leave
so you’re not late? Using our counting backwards and rounding up technique, I’m going to
say wake up at 8 AM. Let’s check. 9:30 – leave for class
9 – 9:30 – do 30 minutes of homework or something to prepare for class
8:30-9 – shower and get changed. 8-8:30 eat breakfast
So, yeah, give yourself TWO WHOLE HOURS. If you’re chronically late, that may seem a
crazy long time. But it’s not. See? We wrote it out in black and white. So let’s say you leave your house at 9:30
and you arrive with plenty of time for your 10AM class. You take your seat, relaxed, and
maybe even a little bored. DON’T take this as a sign that you should leave later next
time, you adrenaline junky! This just means you need something to occupy your time. Carry
flashcards with you, or review your class notes from last time. These 5-10 minute stretches
of free time are perfect places to sneak in a little studying, which will further reduce
your stress. Are you stressed IN class? Got the fidgets?
Many people find themselves distracted and jumpy in class – they feel trapped, and they
tap their feet and spin their pens. You might be helped by one of these little beauties
– the fidget spinner. The idea is – when your hand is occupied with a soothing, repetitive
task like spinning a fidget spinner, you are free to concentrate on the task at hand. You
could also try one of these squeezy toys. If you’d like to try this for yourself,
we’ll include links to the fidgety toys we’ve tried ourselves. Worth a shot. Better
than kicking the chair in front of you. Don’t discount the importance of friends.
Make time to check in with your buddies. Walk to class together. Try to eat together with
friends or family. Did you know that one of the best predictors of a long, healthy life
is a strong social network? We are social animals, even those of us who are introverts.
We need real human connection to be well. Now we’ve been talking about what you can
do for YOURSELF in your daily life, but this is no substitute for professional care. Honestly,
everyone could benefit from talking through their life challenges with a counselor. Your
school has mental health professionals available. Please take advantage of this incredible resource.
You may feel more comfortable talking with a spiritual guide. That can be a wonderful
option as well. Most importantly, know that reaching out for help sends your brain a powerful
message that your well-being matters. Now that’s the mental side. How about the
physical? Are you eating right, exercising,and getting enough sleep? All of these things
can contribute to your stress level, if you neglect them. You heard it from your parents, but that doesn’t
mean it isn’t true – you are what you eat. Are you eating your vegetables? I’m not
going to preach some special diet at you other than this – vegetables are your friend. If
you’re eating fast food all the time, you might be going a whole day sometimes without
eating a single vegetable. You could even be malnourished. Learn how to make simple,
healthy meals. It’s not hard. Have at least one vegetable with every meal (even breakfast).
This will reduce your body stress, your mental stress, all kinds of stress. Get outside for some fresh air. Being out
in nature reduces our stress in mysterious but measurable ways. Try reading outside.
Go for a walk. Take your coffee break outside. Speaking of coffee – watch your caffeine intake.
Many people find it helpful to jump start their day, and it may even be beneficial for
your health – but it’s easy to overdo it. If you’ve got the jitters, try cutting back.
Everything in moderation! Your bed is for sleep. Don’t study in bed.
Don’t read your phone in bed. Don’t watch TV in bed! All of these interfere with your
getting to sleep. Most people need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Are YOU getting enough?
If you know you’re a morning person, don’t force yourself to stay up late with caffeine.
Start your day early instead. Similarly, if you’re a night owl, use those night hours
to your benefit. Get your reading done in the peace and quiet at nighttime – then – let
yourself sleep in. Arrange your schedule as much as possible to match the hours when you
are at your best. Even if you suffer from insomnia, staying on a steady schedule will
help. Don’t let anything interfere with your getting enough sleep.Exercise
also seems to help people sleep better. Yep, here’s another big source of stress
that you CAN do something about. Your body NEEDS exercise, and if you don’t do any,
you’ll feel tired, sore, and unhappy. This doesn’t mean you have to be a super athlete.
Just get your body moving. Make sure to find something that you enjoy, so you don’t have
to force yourself. If you like to be with people when you exercise, you could find a
team sport to play. Or join that spontaneous kickball game. Do you like taking walks? Take
a friend with you! Or if you prefer to use this time for quiet reflection, consider the
peace and solitude of swimming laps. Your body will thank you, and your stress will
evaporate… along with a little sweat. We hope you find some of these suggestions
helpful. Let us know what YOU do to reduce stress in your life. Taking care of yourself,
minimizing stress – it’s all part of being a great student. Subscribe to Socratica for more smart videos! Follow the hashtag #MentalHealthAwareness
for more Mental Health Awareness videos