How to cope during the Season of Stress

Posted on November 01, 2018

With exam season approaching, it’s not just students who are stressed out – this time of the year brings with it challenges for staff too. It’s a time when everything seems to be upon you: marking exam scripts, finalising NRF reports and reconciling budgets, ensuring all completed postgraduate theses and dissertations are ready for marking or finalised for autumn graduations. Tukkievaria asked the Employee Well-being Programme (EWP) for a few simple tips to help you manage your stress levels.

Most stress experienced at this time of the year is deadline driven and unavoidable. But there are several strategies that can help you to cope better. “A healthy lifestyle, plenty of sleep, good time management skills, and having an organised home and workplace will all help to deal effectively with stress,” says Dr Rina Buys. “If you aren’t able to attend stress workshops, try meditation, relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises to help you learn to relax. These methods do work when practised regularly.” If you experience severe physical and emotional symptoms, be sure to seek expert advice, cautions Dr Buys.

The EWP recommends the following general tips to help you manage stress over the long term:

  • Look at a situation optimistically:
    • Optimists are more resistant to stress.
    • They display fewer physical illnesses or symptoms of stress.
  • Taking a problem-solving approach:
    • Look for solutions instead of getting entangled in the problem.
    • Try to change and reduce your exposure to stressful situations.
    • Remove yourself from the stressor – this will not change or eliminate the cause, but will enable you to change your reaction.
  • Use positive, coping statements and eliminate self-defeating behaviour:
    • Avoid stress-promoting thoughts and beliefs.
    • Avoid making self-critical comments.
    • Resist negative thinking.
    • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
    • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Change your focus:
    • Work to live rather than live to work.
    • Take an alternative route to work.
    • Recognise that stress is normal.
    • Plan your work, learn to prioritise and delegate if necessary.
    • Plan time away from work.
    • Take breaks – and enjoy them.
    • Instead of coffee, drink water – caffeine increases the stress response of your body.
    • Learn how to mentally remove yourself for a few minutes at a time.
    • Build effective and supportive relationships.
    • Find and engage in meaningful new projects or hobbies.
    • Have a sense of humour.


- Author Shakira Hoosain

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