I agreed to write an article on managing stress, so why not write it as if I am already under a lot of stress – Piazza screaming at me, a couple of assignments to create, and a host of household emergencies to quell. In my experience, we are given many solid stress management advices, but you need to figure out what exactly helps YOU in various situations (slightly stressed, angry-stressed, helpless-stressed, too-busy-stressed) and WRITE IT DOWN.
So, how does one overcome the stress that Engineering creates?
First, try to catch the bad situation early. Stress, like all great viruses (drunkenness, stupidity, etc.), first attacks your ability to recognize it. By the time we realize we are stressed, we have often been long under its influence. Learn your “stress signals” – difficulty sleeping, inability to stick to a timetable- and stay vigilant for them. If the stress cannot be managed with just a few small tricks, please go to the Accessibility Services, Health and Wellness, or ask the wonderful folks at the First Year Office for assistance for froshes.
Listening to music is helpful, but don’t listen to just anything. Pick music that will help you with your current mood. I have playlists named after the Seven Deadly Sins- I put together the lists that became Wrath – all of the songs with angry emotions, and Sloth – slow songs to mellow my mood. (When the Levee Breaks is actually on both.)
Immersing yourself in the art form of your choice is also a great idea. I like to settle into a good book and get away from the real world for a bit. I enjoy breaking into the world of a fellow teacher who applies his chemistry skills to the real world. By cooking meth.
Exercising is useful, but again we need to be specific. Basketball and fútbol are, for me, the best. Both are very fluid games that can be played at the level of intensity needed for de-stressing, and allow you to run fast enough to drown out the voices in your head.
These are just some of my ideas. They work for me, but you need to figure out what works for you. Understand that you need to examine your own self to figure out the indicators of stress, the different types of stress, and the specific things that can help you fight it. Of course, one can always hold office hours in The Pit and have loud political ‘discussions’ with students.