Stress is a normal part of life, but too much of it can be unhealthy for you. It’s well established that chronic stress can trigger physiological and psychological responses. In fact, this condition has been linked to mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, gastrointestinal issues and even sexual dysfunction. There are times when the source of stress can be completely removed from your immediate environment, but this isn’t always an option, especially if the stress is coming from your academic or professional endeavours. 

If you’re eager to complete your SkillsFuture credit courses requirements or you’re aiming for a work promotion, for instance, then you might be pushing yourself to perform like never before. While you may be working on something that you want and that can improve your situation in the long run, it’s still possible for these projects to cause you to suffer from stress. Here are some of the things you can do to manage academic- or work-related stress better:

Assess If Your Schedule Reflects Your Priorities

Effectively dealing with stress often starts with evaluating your priorities at this current stage in your life. After listing down your top concerns, the next thing you should do is check if the way you use your resources reflects the level of importance of these goals. For example, the opportunity for a promotion may be your top priority right now, so you’re putting all of your time and energy into networking and taking on extra responsibilities in the office.

But once the chronic stress starts to negatively impact your body, you might rank your health and well-being ahead of the career advancement you desire. This change in status should also affect how you allocate your time and energy. Instead of spending an extra hour at work, for example, you might want to go home on time so you can exercise, eat on schedule or sleep better. This way, you can do your job according to your exacting standards without necessarily compromising your health.

Give Yourself Enough Time to Rest and Sleep

It’s not unusual for people in highly stressful situations to feel like they don’t have enough time to complete their tasks. To improve your productivity level and reach your goals, you might have considered sacrificing your sleeping and resting hours so that you could do more work or study more. Unfortunately,  lack of sleep can lead to performance decline. There are numerous publications that point out how poor sleep quality is connected to memory lapses, poor focus, a decline in problem-solving abilities and higher chances of sustaining occupational injuries, among other problems. These issues can snowball and make it more difficult for you to focus on and attain your goals.

Thus, when the going gets tough, make it a priority to rest well. By giving your mind and body enough time to recover, you’re also giving yourself the best chance to maximise your productivity during your waking hours.

Identify the Things That Overwhelm You

Chronic negative stress can easily bleed into other aspects of your life and affect how you view the things that once caused you to feel positive stress. Now, it’s difficult to find a practical solution to the things that stress you out when everything seems to be elevating your stress levels. What you can do is get better at identifying the signs that you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Maybe too much stress can make you feel moody or always on the edge. Or perhaps it negatively impacts your focus, problem-solving skills or memory.

Once you can identify the signs, you’ll have an easier time looking for possible triggers. Perhaps you feel more stressed out on the days leading up to an important deadline, after working for a particular number of hours or when anticipating a meeting with a troublesome teammate or client. Once you know what triggers your stress, you can take practical steps to address the issue and make arrangements so you can better deal with these triggers.

Prepare a Game Plan for Stressful Days

There will always be stressful days. While you can’t completely eliminate the sources of stress, you can have a plan in place to reduce your stress levels. If you’ve determined that important deadlines can raise your stress levels for weeks on end, how about planning your work so that you can avoid rushing as the big day approaches? If you can’t do this on your own, you can ask a trusted supervisor or instructor for help. You can work together and make arrangements to manage this particular stressor better.

It’s also an option to have a plan in place in case the stress overwhelms you. For instance, if you find yourself losing focus or having memory lapses, you can take a short break to destress for a bit. Maybe you can meditate, eat a snack, take a nap or have a quick shower to reset your mind and manage your stress levels. This will help you control the level of disruption that stress can cause to your day-to-day activities.

Although typically seen in a negative light, stress can be harnessed in a way that will benefit you. Should you feel overwhelmed by working or studying, remember these tips so you can control your stress level better and prevent it from becoming a constant presence in your everyday activities.