Keep Calm and Carry On: Coping with Stress

April 12, 2013

The anticipation of war loomed into the hearts of every British citizen of 1939. They understood that by declaring war with Germany each and every one of them was a target, subject to be attacked by the bombing raids. To them it wasn't a matter of 'if' but 'when' were they going to attack. Should they panic and abandon their cities? Stockpile weapons and barricade themselves in their homes? The advice given to them from their Ministry of Information was direct and concise. KEEP CALM and CARRY ON. The idea was that the only way they were going to mentally survive and win the war was if they all remained calm and carried on with their lives and their jobs.

With final exams quickly approaching many students are starting to feel the pressure to do well. The stress that seems to follow can be overwhelming, causing panic, anxiety and even adverse physical manifestations. Like the British of 1939, learning safe and effective coping strategies now is an important tool you can use throughout your life well beyond your days in University.

So what is the best way to deal with stress? The truth is that there is no one correct method. The human condition is too complex to be summed up in a one, cure-all solution. The truth is that it is an individual journey and one that only you can figure out. Some people have to gain inner peace in India - others find coping strategies among friends. So this question is worth asking a few people.

How do you cope with stress?

Jyle - Bob Parsons, founder and owner of GoDaddy.com said that one of his keys for success is his ability to cope with stress effectively. His lesson came when he was a soldier in Vietnam. Faced with the likelihood of death on a daily basis, Parsons had been stressed to the max. He decided to envision himself dying, coming to terms and accepting it. Every day that he was alive after that, seemed to him like a new gift of life. He performed better as a soldier and became a successful entrepreneur by applying those same stress techniques.

When faced with a stressful situation I like to think 'what is the worst that can happen?,' accept it as a likelihood, and when the worst doesn't happen I am somewhat relieved and move on. I also tend to be inside my head allot so anything that gets me to operate something other than my mind is a stress relief. Playing Call of Duty, tinkering on my car, fixing things or gardening are all ways I like to get out and decompress.

Aida - When I'm feeling outdoorsy, which is… not often, I like to take a book and a blanket and read in the sunshine or take a walk around the prettier parts of Grounds, like Darden Court in the E-School. If it’s rainy or cold I’ll stay in my dorm room and lie around in my pajamas drinking tea and playing Sims on my computer. Smaller, quicker things I do to de-stress include painting my nails, listening to podcasts (highly recommend This American Life and The JV Club), baking, and taking Sporcle quizzes! And nothing beats getting a good night’s sleep!

Ginger - When I am feeling stressed out I like to turn on the TV and watch a good episode of Miss Marple (BBC). There's something mentally soothing to watch a good murder mystery. Solving crimes by analyzing people in a 'who did it' kind of way helps drain away other preoccupied thoughts.

Addie - Whether we like it or not, stress is just a part of being alive in the twenty-first century. We are forever haunted by our e-mail, our cellphones, our televisions, and our computers; we are accessible anytime, anywhere. I often times realize that I have forgotten what it is like when things are completely silent. I live my life to a soundtrack of iPhone rings and fingers hitting computer keys, and I can't sit down to do my work without my headphones in. So, when I'm stressed--I unplug myself. I turn off my phone, shut down my computer, turn off the TV, and just let myself be! When this isn't enough, I always treat myself to a massage or a new outfit (retail therapy is real!), and if all else fails, I go home, because if there is one thing I know it's that nothing is better than scooping up my 3 year old Bichon-Shihtzu mix into my arms and letting her little pink tongue lick all my stress away!

Like the British of 1939, keeping calm and carrying on meant being prepared by building bomb shelters, but otherwise living life as normally as possible to demonstrate to the Nazis a resolve that couldn't be intimidated. Stressful situations will come and go throughout your life. Learning helpful/healthy coping strategies that work for you is one of the most important lessons you can learn in universities.

So what do you find helpful in dealing with stress?

Image courtesy of Anna Gutermuth and Wikipedia.org

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