6 Ways to Succesfully Manage Stress (Part 1)

Everyone is stressed out these days, from work, school, spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, kids, family commitments, volunteer commitments, and other social activities. For many people, 24 hours don’t feel like enough time.

When I was at the Schulich School of Business, I have been under tremendous stress from the heavy course load and all the volunteering for extracurricular activities. Many people know I made the Dean’s Honor List for high GPA and won a Schulich convocation award and scholarship for commitment to student life and academic achievement. People see me as having abundant energy and am always smiling. I successfully managed my stress, but there was a learning curve.

The truth is, I am, like everyone else, made of flesh and blood. I feel stressed, I get tired, and can get worn out. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage stress better and better, and today I want to share some Stress Management techniques with you all.

1) Don’t use your smart phone during meals and when walking (seriously!)

I eat at the Peking University cafeteria every day, and I look around to see students eating and looking at their smart phones. Our minds are constantly around the clock bombarded with text messages, e-mails, Facebook alerts, etc. Even during meals, which once upon a time was a time for the mind to rest from work and connect with people, now is interrupted by smart phone usage.

Also, did you know the first 10 minutes when you wake up sets the tone of your day? Studies have shown people that wake up and immediate reach for their smart phone to check e-mail and messages are more agitated and restless during the rest of their day. It is recommended when you wake up to resist checking your smart phone for a while.

Every time I see someone walking and looking at their smart phone I want to smack them on the head. First of all, look where you are going! You become prone to traffic accidents. Second, what is so important that you have to check while you are walking? Give your mind a chance to rest. Don’t walk and use smart phone simultaneously!

Also, don’t use your smart phone before you sleep. Studies have shown the blue light that radiates from smart phones or iPads and computers can affect our brains causing sleeplessness.

2) Learn to say “no”

Many people are “yes men” or “yes women”. You know what I mean: they say “yes” to everything. They can’t turn down people in fear people will not like them. Sound familiar? I was once a “yes man”. I used to not be able to turn people down. Today, I know better. I need to worry about myself and my own priorities first. Yes, it sounds selfish, but the truth is, when I say “no” I have more time to focus on the things I’m already committed to. By saying “yes” all the time it takes me away from the things that matter the most. Therefore, I always turn down people’s requests if I know I cannot fulfill them satisfactorily. If you say “no”, trust me, the world will not end. Actually, people respect people who dare to say “no” more than “yes people”.

3) Exercise your body and eat a proper diet

I know this is a cliché, but still many people don’t understand the urgency. The secret to staying healthy and managing stress is not really a secret. It’s really common knowledge. The real problem is whether you choose to do it or not. When people say, “I don’t have time to exercise”, I interpret that as “Exercise is not important enough for me to schedule time for it” or “I don’t know how to manage my time to do what’s really important, like taking care of my body.” I truly believe if I take care of my body, my body will take care of me. I am super busy, yet I still find time to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I make exercise a priority. I find that after exercise, I feel more relaxed and more focused. I work more efficiently after exercising.

Now about diet, you are what you eat. If you eat junk food, you feel like junk. If you eat fruits and vegetables, and get your vitamins and fibre, you have more energy. Coffee and caffeine is a short-term fix, never should be used as a long-term solution. Caffeine makes a person agitated, it deteriorates performance over long-term use.

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