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Coping with Stress as a Student



 

The current Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted your ability to study, maintain relationships, complete routine tasks, and use your bodies. You feel lonely and sad, worried and uncertain, about many things. Be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate your way.

 

Here are 8 tips to help you cope with the excessive stress you may be experiencing:

 

1. Establish healthy self-care routines:

·      sleep – for nine to 12 hours a night for 6- to 12-year olds and eight to 10 hours for teens.

·      exercise – for at least 60 minutes daily for 6- to 17-year olds.

·      eat well – it keeps your immune system strong and emotional reserves full.

·      relax – play with building blocks, practice music or art, read a favourite book, sing to songs you like, watch a favourite comedy or movie.

·      enjoy nature – the green space improves mood, reduces stress, depression, and anxiety.

·      keep digital devices – before bedtime; limit screen time and compulsively checking social media to reduce further anxiety and stress.

 

2. Calm yourself

Slowly breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four, and then breathe out for six. Repeat 10 times. Slowing our breathing allows our bodies to recalibrate and lowers levels of physiological arousal (APA, January 15, 2021).

 

3. Focus yourself

Slow your racing thoughts by counting backwards by three in your mind from 100 (100, 97, 94, etc.). Focusing in an organised way and engaging your brain in a distracting task can disrupt unhelpful patterns (APA, January 15, 2021).

 

4. Celebrate yourself

Think about three things that went well today. If someone had also been involved in those things, thank him. Slowing down and being grateful for even small achievements can increase your sense of control over your environment. It helps you to help others more effectively (APA, January 15, 2021).

 

5. Develop self-confidence

Strengthen your problem-solving skills, and emotional regulation skills to handle anger, anxiety and depression. Do not compare yourself too much to peers, or expect perfection from yourself or others (it can cause disappointment).


6. Seek social support

Do not isolate yourself. Engage in activities, such as cooking, having a meal, or playing a board game with your family. It increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions. Connect with your friends via technology, share, and help each other manage similar anxieties, as well as receive mutual support and comfort.


7. Manage cyberbullying*

In a 2012 Microsoft study of 25 countries, Singapore had the second highest rate (58%) of online bullying worldwide, after China, the only two countries where it was more pervasive than in the real world. Develop your assertiveness skills: speak up, stand up to a bully, and say “no” or “stop that”; report aggressive behaviour to school authorities; and confront negative peer pressures such as smoking and drugs.


*Note: Cyber bullies employ cyber-baiting tactics by provoking victims to react in a negative manner and then posting the recorded video or picture online to shame and embarrass the victim.


8. Ask for help

Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Know when and where to go when under severe stress, such as having suicidal thoughts, or feeling traumatised. Talk to a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. They are experts in helping you identify situations or behaviours that contribute to your stress, and develop an action plan to change the stressors, your environment, or your responses. They will teach you healthy ways to handle your stress.


By Dr Carol Yeo

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