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Professional Development: Stress Management Skills

Let's face it, going back to school and juggling the demands of school, work and your family and friends can be pretty stressful! Just when you think you've hit the right stride, life inevitably throws you a curve ball - an unexpected project at work, a big paper to research and write, a family emergency.

For most of us, managing stress is part of everyday life. We try to keep a good balance and are able to roll with the punches and take on a little extra pressure here and there. For some people, the effects of stress on the body, not to mention quality of life, can be a real challenge.

Diagnosing stress is difficult because it tends to come and go, or at least settle down from time to time. Stress affects people differently as well. Some people are affected mentally and have a hard time concentrating. For most people, however, stress will manifest itself in behavioral changes like eating habits and sleeping patterns.

Once you identify that you think you have stress, your goal will be to learn what's causing it and how to combat it. Treatment can be key to your overall productivity and success in all areas of your life.
The good news is that for the vast majority of students suffering from stress, the life changes you make to eliminate it are really pretty simple:

· Cut down on nicotine, caffeine and alcohol! That anxious feeling you get that feels like stress could be your body craving its fix!

· Get a good night's sleep! We know you're busy, but taking care of yourself is key. Burning the midnight oil may get the project done, but it wreaks havoc on the next few days!

· Be active! Sometimes it feels like there's little time to take care of yourself in your busy day. Try to get a little exercise where you can - at your desk or by parking at the outskirts of the lot and walking briskly to class or work.

· Have fun! Make sure to connect with someone you enjoy each day, and laugh. Call to share a joke, forward a funny email, whatever it takes.

While no life can ever be stress-free, following these basic tips can help you keep your stress at a manageable level while enabling you to identify when you might have a real problem that requires professional attention.