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Dealing with Stress

  1. Dec 10, 2007 #1
    I have a huge problem with stress, it is becoming such a problem that I am sure it is comprimising my performance on exams and is just plain making me miserable. So I was wondering if anyone has any good tips as to how to deal with it? I try just taking some time away from studying to do something fun for half an hour or so but that doesn't work because the entire time I feel guilty for not studying even though I realize it is probably a good thing to do in the long run. Maybe some of you have some better ideas?

    I've always been a person who is stressed out rather easily but this year it has been getting absolutely ridiculous. Before exams (directly before and even the day or two leading up to it) I feel absolutely awful. My heart starts pounding so fast I can actually hear and feel it, my mouth gets dry, my stomach feels naseous, I may even start dry heaving (embarrassing if that happens with people around), I can't sleep and I can't eat. Basically it takes over my life and I am getting kind of miserable. I constantly worry about being a failure and flunking out even though I've never had less than a B+ in a class. It wouldn't suprise me if one day I just drop dead of a stress induced heart attack lol.

    I know this sounds like a pretty stupid thing to bring up on an internet forum but I'm really getting tired of living like this so any advice is much appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2007 #2
    10 min
    Bed
    Sounds from Nature
     
  4. Dec 10, 2007 #3
    Practice martial arts. Find your center.

    牛仔裤说了。谢谢
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  5. Dec 10, 2007 #4
    In my experiences, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep. If you're not getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, then you're putting a lot of stress on your mind and body. It is a proven fact that you are more productive if you sleep more and work less, than staying up and studying a few hours extra and not getting enough sleep. If you're too tense to sleep, take some sleeping pills or something. Napping doesn't count, you need 8 hours of solid sleep for your mind to properly rest. This is especially important the night before a test.

    As for eating, stay away from fast food and soft drinks. This is especially true for breakfast and lunch; eating a cheeseburger and drinking a coke is going to make you sleepy in the middle of the day (not to mention it's just plain unhealthy). If you nap in the middle of the day, you aren't going to be able to get a good solid sleep at night. Also, eat lots of small healthy meals through the day. Small meals keeps your blood sugar at a constant level so you always have enough energy to study, but you don't get a sugar rush and exhaust yourself then crash. Fruits, nuts, or cereal bars are great. Make sure you get a nice balance of carbohydrates and protein.

    I don't know what else to tell you. If you are really getting paranoid to the point that you're getting full blown panic attacks I'd suggest seeing your doctor. Maybe he can give you something for anxiety.
     
  6. Dec 10, 2007 #5
    Making plans help with panic test disorder. 24 hours befor a major test, write down every thing you plan to do, include rest times, study and play times{movies are good}, food breaks and shower time{relaxing herbal shower scrubs rule}. Make sure you have filled the time, leaveing no time to sit idle and freak yourself out.

    A hour befor major tests, take some mulit- B vitimens, then a good 20 minute walk outside. Spend the next 20 minutes reviewing the subject of the test, making sure you have everything in order, eat a light snack and do some streching.
    I use to take a few photos of places I've been, and spend a few minutes befor tests day-dreaming about them. It helped me relax.
     
  7. Dec 10, 2007 #6

    Kurdt

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    As others have suggested a healthy diet and a good nights sleep will help. Regular exercise is very good for stress. Take up jogging for at least 30 minutes a day (~5km will be 30 minutes for beginners).

    Finally go to the doctor. You may have GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). I have this and its not very nice coupled with IBS. Your doctor will avoid medication if necessary and refer you to a counselor who may later on advise some medication if things aren't improving. It really is best to deal with this as soon as possible.
     
  8. Dec 10, 2007 #7

    Moonbear

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    I agree with Kurdt. While developing better coping skills is essential, that's hard to do when you're already in a vicious cycle of getting stressed out. Don't hesitate to talk to a doctor about this. We're not necessarily even talking long-term medication here, it could be something as simple as something to help you sleep at night until final exams are over so you're more rested to function well during the day, and then to work on your coping skills over the course of your break from school and the following semester so you won't wind up in this situation the next set of exams.
     
  9. Dec 10, 2007 #8

    ShawnD

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    I'm jumping on the sleep bandwagon. When I don't have enough time for extended sleep (think 12h worth), I find that I get a much better sleep if I take diphenhydramine before going to bed (for maybe 6 hours of sleep). Its effects are very similar to drinking large amounts of alcohol, including memory loss, so try not to make a habit of it.
    diphenhydramine and its effects. It's usually sold as an antihistamine, but it's also found in sleep aids and a few other medications.

    edit: Added sleep durations.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  10. Dec 10, 2007 #9
    Also, I wouldn't recommend taking any sleepy aids the night before a test. It really sucks if you wake up groggy and can't stay awake during the actual test.
     
  11. Dec 10, 2007 #10
    Thanks guys, I'm sure one of my big problems is lack of sleep, so I will try to be better about that in the future. I'm on of those people who just worry at night instead of sleeping though so that is a bit of a problem as well. I think next semester I am going to try and join something, kickboxing or an intramural sports team or something. Maybe getting out of the house and having a break from school might help a bit. I just hope it will fit in my schedule, lots of time my schedule goes to late in the day and I miss everything.
     
  12. Dec 10, 2007 #11

    Kurdt

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    I might just add that if you need relief instantly (for exams) then sometimes the herbal calming pills can work (I don't know how perhaps Moonbear knows the details) not completely eliminating the symptoms but dulling them enough to function. If they don't work travel sickness tablets are very good, but make sure they're non-drowsy for your exams.
     
  13. Dec 10, 2007 #12

    Astronuc

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    Sleep (and by that I mean a regular sleep cycle), diet and exercise are all part of a healthy lifestyle and helpful in dealing with stress. Sleep aid like diphenhydramine should be used in the short term in helping one establish a more regular sleep cycle.

    Diet (mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains) should include vitamin supplements, particuarly vitamin B complex.

    Going for walks and some other relaxing activity is helpful. I would also recommend some type of meditation in which one just empties the mind of thought - i.e. just let go of the worry.

    Study on a regular basis.
     
  14. Dec 10, 2007 #13

    ShawnD

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    Very true. Part of that list of effects for anticholinergic drugs (diphenhydramine) in my previous post include:
    -short term memory loss
    -confusion
    -inability to concentration

    Short term memory loss as in you forget everything you just studied. The memory comes back when the drugs are out of your system, but how long will that take? Do not take sleep aids the night before exams unless you have enough time for a full night's rest. In TV commercials for sleep aids they usually include a warning about getting 8 hours of sleep; they include that so people don't crash their cars in the morning while they are still severely intoxicated by sleep aids.

    Another thing is to avoid caffeine. It causes euphoria for a short period of time, followed by a hard crash and severe depression. That won't help you study, it won't help you work, and it won't help with exams if you happen to crash during the exam. Drink tea instead. Theophylline in tea is similar to caffeine, but its effects are milder, and it lasts for a much longer period of time. Also, and this is just my experience, but I find that I don't need to go to the bathroom as often when I'm drinking tea when compared to coffee. Nothing will destroy your concentration in an exam like needing to use the bathroom and not being able to.

    It's also a good habit to do things right after school instead of waiting until night time.
    Being done earlier gives you a chance to slowly wind down rather than having tension build up as you try to get your work done late at night. And by that time you're probably tired, so you'll drink coffee to stay awake. Caffeine has drastic effects on REM sleep, so you'll wake up feeling like garbage the next day.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  15. Dec 10, 2007 #14

    turbo

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    I used to memorize a lot of stuff in HS, because the classes progressed slowly, and I hardly ever took notes. I found myself in trouble in engineering school because there was a lot of material to absorb at once. I tried taking copious notes, but that left me little time to think and understand in class, and I approached exams with trepidation and lots of uncertainty/stress. My second semester, I turned that situation around. I underlined my texts whenever a prof or teaching assistant emphasized key concepts, and if they offered an alternative way of understanding a concept in the text (they didn't all like the texts that the department was using), I made sure to jot that in the margins. I'd still carry a notebook to class to copy out problems and make longer notes, but I treated my annotated texts as my primary study aid. Another thing - if I had some trouble understanding a concept, I made it a point to talk to the instructor or a teaching assistant as soon as I could. Technical courses build on previous materials, and it is very stressful to have a hole in your comprehension of earlier material. These tips may not work for you, but they greatly reduced my stress, allowed me to spend less time studying, and let me get more restful sleep and improve my grades. They weren't bad, anyway (I was offered a 5-year pulp and paper scholarship in Chemical Engineering), but I still obsessed about improving them until I changed my study habits. I'm kind of obsessive about problems and it's a lot easier to get restful sleep if my brain isn't racing when I go to bed. It might help you to establish a routine before bedtime that gives you time to enjoy some herb tea while reading a good book. I used to keep collections of Science Fiction short stories for just such a purpose, because finishing a story before bedtime gave me a bit of closure and gave my brain something non-technical to mull over.

    I hope some of this helps. Good luck.
     
  16. Dec 10, 2007 #15

    EnumaElish

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    Study before class.
     
  17. Dec 10, 2007 #16
    Getting fresh air can help with stress, you can try lavender oil blended with a mixing oil and massaged on your neck. Chamomile tea can help as well.
     
  18. Dec 11, 2007 #17

    EnumaElish

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    Physical activity (regular is best, but any is better than none).
     
  19. Dec 11, 2007 #18
    Did I get this right?
    Jeans has spoken. Thank you.
     
  20. Dec 11, 2007 #19

    EnumaElish

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    It means "Cow 仔 裤 说 Ryo. 谢 谢" according to many an online translator.
     
  21. Dec 11, 2007 #20
    Looks like you translated from Japanese. Try simplified Chinese.
     
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