How to manage stress during your student days

How to manage stress during your student days, How to face stress during your student days, stress student life, work pressure student, student loan, student burnout

During my time at the university, your student days were called ‘the best time of your life’. Although life luckily had (and hopefully will have) many more good times for me, I doubt if people still use this quote that easily.

Student life seems to have gotten surrounded with more worries and stress. The current system with student loans implies large debts for many students. Employers ask more of their future employees, from high grades to extensive CVs. On top of that social media allow us to compare ourselves with others in the blink of an eye – while often showing an incomplete picture, hiding less beautiful bits and pieces. And although it might be possible to handle all of these, be aware of not getting into a toxic cocktail of severe stress. In this article I give some ways to better manage stress during your student days.

Stress

First, stress does have its positive sides. A bit of stress helps us through life. It makes you more alert and gives the extra energy needed to meet a deadline or to pass an exam. However, when experiencing stress becomes part of your daily life, it’s another story. Continual stress causes physical and mental symptoms and might even result in (near) burnout: you’ve been pushing yourself too hard for too long.

Short outbursts of stress increase your heart rate and cause sweaty hands. These signals fade away when the stress situation ends. Continual stress has different outings like stomach issues or headaches, problems with concentrating, anxiety or emotional instability. Eventually you might reach a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.

How to manage stress?

There are several things you can do to cope with stress and stressful situations in a more effective way (meaning good for you and your health). They range from healthy living habits, to being conscious about what you really like in life and what you don’t, to introducing time to truly relax your brain.

Introduce healthy habits

Proper self-care should be a habit like brushing your teeth twice a day: routine. Go for healthy foods, not too much coffee and alcohol, and make sure you get the amount of sleep you really need (not the amount you can survive on). Take breaks every hour or two.
Thirty minutes of light, daily outdoor exercise relieves stress and releases happy hormones. A walk or bicycle ride is perfect and sports is fine as well!
A crucial part of self-care is thinking nicely about yourself. You’re as valuable as everyone else! Become aware of the thoughts that make you be hard on yourself.

What about work pressure?

The study load has several peaks during the academic year and for most students these are stressful periods. The university has a responsibility to spread the work pressure wisely, however making an adequate planning will help you a lot as well. Why wait for the deadline to finish a paper, especially when that deadline is during exam period? Postponing work (‘studieontwijkend gedrag’) increases stress.

Share not only the happy stuff

On social media life might seem all rainbows, glitter and unicorns, but real life isn’t! Share it with your friends when you have an off-day, when you feel stuck or if the tasks in your project group have not been assigned evenly. It might feel difficult in the beginning, but showing more vulnerability pays off. You can read more about this in ‘The power of vulnerability’ by Brené Brown. This is one of my favourite books and there is a great TED talk from her on YouTube as well.

Energy sources and drains

To keep your energy tank full, it is important that more energy goes in than goes out. You can make a list of all the things that give you energy (sources) and those that are energy drains in private life, study and work. You might also track this on a daily basis for one or two weeks. The list will help you prioritize what you really love to do. In addition, try to get rid of (part of) the energy drains.

A simple NO

Start with saying ‘no’, or something similar like ‘I do not have time for that’, ‘maybe person X can help you with this’ etc. Might feel awkward in the beginning, but practice makes perfect. More about saying NO (article in Dutch) you can read here.

Give your brain some rest

Another important factor in coping with stress is to give your brain some true rest. Although an evening with Netflix might feel good, your brain will still be active as it is when you are using your smartphone etc. Better to go for a walk or to just stare out of the window. Get bored!

Constantly checking your phone could also be a way of avoidant behaviour (as could be drinking, gaming, etc). It seems like an escape from difficult emotions like anger, sadness or disappointment or certain thoughts like doubt, but be aware that these emotions or thoughts will pop up again and again. Till you properly address them, so I would say, better do that today than tomorrow.

Ask for help

If you experience moderate to severe stress symptoms, please talk to a friend, family member, your GP, student advisor, student psychologist, or another professional care giver. It is important to get (professional) help, as it is one of the best ways to learn new and more effective coping methods. Universities often offer courses about stress management as well.

Do you want to read more?

On Facebook you can follow Sagitta Peters career and burnout coaching to stay informed on other blogs, or you can follow me on LinkedIn.

Do you experience stress related symptoms? Or do you have questions about your personal development or career and do you want to learn more about how I can help you with that? Please contact me to plan an introductory meeting. This 30 minute meeting is without obligations and free of charge. It will give you an impression how we could work on your questions or goals. After this meeting you can decide if you start coaching sessions with me or not.

On my English page you can read more about career coaching and burnout coaching and my way of working.

I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Photo How to manage stress during your student days: Tim Gouw via Unsplash

This article has also been published on the website of W.S.V. Simon Stevin and will be published in their magazine Simon Ster. W.S.V. Simon Stevin is the study association for Mechanical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. Counting more than 1800 members of which about 150 participate actively in 25 committees, organising all kinds of events interesting for mechanical engineers.

How to start recovering from burnout

how to start recovering from burnout, burnout recovery, near burnout, stress, workstress, work stress, work presssure

A bit of stress helps us through life. It makes us more alert and gives us the extra energy needed to meet a deadline. However, when facing stress becomes part of our daily life, it’s another story. Continual stress causes physical and mental symptoms and might result in burnout: you’ve been pushing yourself too hard for too long. You don’t recognise yourself anymore and wonder what you can do to become “you” again? This article will give you guidance on how to start recovering from burnout (and near burnout).

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, caused by a long period of severe stress. Driven by an ideal, you’ve put your own needs last and you feel miserable, isolated and have difficulties facing what has happened.

Both work and private life can contribute: from high workloads to conflicts at work, and from changing family situations to moving (abroad). By continuously neglecting your boundaries, your energy tank has slowly run low, until it has become completely empty. On top of that, you probably have other symptoms, like stomach issues or headaches, problems with concentrating, anxiety or emotional instability.

If you recognise yourself in (part of) the above, please talk to your partner or a friend, your GP or another caregiver. It is important to get professional help, as it is one of the best ways to recover and learn new coping methods.

Recovering from burnout

How difficult, and perhaps at this point, even impossible, it may sound, accepting the situation is the first step to recovery. Allow yourself to rest, talk to people you trust and ask for professional help. In addition, you can start refilling your energy tank and learning about your alarm system.

Refill your energy tank

Although every person is different, some activities are important for everyone to do to replenish their energy tank. Thirty minutes of light, daily outdoor exercise relieves stress and releases happy hormones. A walk is perfect, as is gardening, cycling etc.

In addition, do one activity every day that makes you truly happy. Drink a cup of hot and tasteful tea from your favourite mug, read a magazine, take a long bath, dance, do some yoga, or take up an old hobby… Make a list with at least ten of these activities, so when you’re really tired, you can just pick one.

Also, it’s wise to dose your energy and not immediately spend what you’ve gained. Crowded places, decision-making and loud noises might trouble you: try to avoid them. For example, go grocery shopping during quiet hours, with a shopping list you’ve made at home.

Introduce healthy habits

Proper self-care should be non-negotiable. If you practice it from the start of your recovery, it is easier to keep this habit whilst being back at work. Go for healthy foods, not too much coffee and alcohol, and go to bed and wake up at regular times.

You may have stopped taking breaks months or maybe years ago. From now on, you will stop when you’re getting tired and you will take a break, instead of waiting until after you’ve finished a task. Also, take the proper time to have lunch.

A crucial part of self-care is thinking nicely about yourself. You’re as valuable as everyone else! Become aware of the thoughts that make you be so hard on yourself.

Your alarm system

Both positive and negative emotions, like physical responses, are signals that your system uses to tell you something. In the past months (or years), you’ve probably noticed some of these little alarms, which have warned you about crossing your boundaries, or unpleasant situations. Like in a factory, these little alarms will become louder and louder, till the factory closes itself down.
Gaining more consciousness about your system, which means recognising signals (sadness, anger, headache, dizziness) and acting accordingly, is something that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

The next step

Only if you feel ready for it (maybe after weeks or months, even), you can start reflecting more explicitly on the process of getting burnt-out. Questions that may guide you are:
• When and why did you let someone else’s happiness and health prevail over your own?
• Which limiting self-beliefs played a part in this process? Perfectionism (and the fear of doing things wrong), having your inner critic always switched on, and feeling responsible for the world are often mentioned.
• And what was your organisation’s share in it?

When your partner has burnout

If it’s your partner who is suffering from burnout, you can support recovery in different ways. Patience and acceptance of the situation as it is are key. You already contribute a lot by simply listening, helping in dosing energy and taking rest, and respecting your partner’s boundaries. Open questions facilitate your partner to reflect and think about their needs.
At the same time, it is good to do some small activities together, like going for a walk in the park or getting some ice-cream. And don’t forget to take good care of yourself, only then can you help your loved one!

Do you want to read more?

On Facebook you can follow Sagitta Peters career and burnout coaching to stay informed on other blogs, or you can follow me on LinkedIn.

Do you experience burnout or other stress related symptoms? Or do you have questions about your personal development or career and do you want to learn more about how I can help you with that? Please contact me to plan an introductory meeting. This 30 minute meeting is without obligations and free of charge. It will give you an impression how we could work on your questions or goals. After this meeting you can decide if you start coaching sessions with me or not.

On my English page you can read more about career coaching and burnout coaching and my way of working.

I’m looking forward to meeting you!

This article has also been published on I am Expat. Founded and run by expats, IamExpat Media is the leading English-language media platform for internationals in the Netherlands and Germany. It provides up-to-date information, news, job listings, housing services, events and lifestyle tips.

Photo Recovering from burnout: Abbie Bernet via Unsplash

Will you be happier after burnout?

Gelukkiger na een burn-out - Sagitta Peters - happier after burnout. Coaching voor hoger opgeleiden en technici, coaching for higher educated

People often say that experiencing burnout should be seen as something good. Or that you surely will be happier after it. Today it is more than four years after I got burnout and I have my own company for two years. Time to draw up the balance: Did I become any happier after my burnout?

Every individual and every situation is unique. Do you feel stressed, extremely tired or do you worry a lot? Please talk to family, friends, your general practitioner or an expert in that field.

Time-out

I had the best possible job as managing director of a research institute and my work was also my hobby: Spending lots of time at work, in a challenging environment with nice and enthusiastic colleagues. I took on some extra projects, and on top of that I replaced a colleague on sick leave. And then I crashed. Burnout…

Free of expectations

After being at home for a while, followed by a careful reintegration process and being back at work, I realised that I didn’t want to do that job anymore. To be free of the expectations of colleagues and of myself, I quit. This gave me time to rethink my career path and current wishes, and orientate on the options available.

Dreams and action

I decided to follow my heart and to start working much closer to and more with people. My mission to contribute to the happiness of people and to make the world a better place has always been part of me. But in my former job, I didn’t feel that I could pursue this goal in a satisfactory manner anymore. I went back to the classroom, this time for a very human oriented education: coach practitioner. To bring my strengths, previous experience and even more important my mission in life together, I created my own dream job. Today I am active as a career and burnout coach for highly educated professionals working in a content-driven environment (engineering, science, finance, …).

Self-employed

It is very rewarding to be able to create, initiate and execute my own projects again, instead of coordinating processes (something that had become a continuously growing part of my former job). I also get lots of energy from the true connections I make with people. I work according to my own values and strengths and regained my autonomy and freedom!

Who am I?

Being burnout, I worked hard on my personal development and continued working on it since. I live very consciously, being aware of who I am, what I do and what I long for. That brings me many goods things, but at the opposite I am not always as light-hearted and carefree as I would like to be.

Happier after burnout?

Since my burnout I live much closer to my true self, my values and my mission in life. I have learned to know myself much better and I listen (again) to what my body and my emotions are telling me. I accepted my sensitivity, at least most of the time (here you can read more about highly sensitive persons). Being more open to others makes that the other can be so as well. This has resulted in many beautiful interactions and conversations.

I am also more easily brought off balance and life isn’t as carefree as it was before. Something I thought I was immune for, happened anyway. An unstoppable power woman, that is not what I would call myself these days anymore. Although honestly, I probably still am, but in a different manner. 😉

Before I got burnout I was pretty happy. And I am (luckily) pretty happy again! As I can also appreciate and enjoy little moments of happiness and gratitude, I do not need as many major achievements anymore to feel so.

Burnout: Something good?

Burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is a tough illness to recover from and I my case it turned my whole life upside down. However, you can make the most out of it and the things you achieve by doing so will be beneficial. For me personally, I live much closer to my true self and I am less prone to expectations of other people (or myself). Life feels healthier and more of my own. And I am really happy again!

Do you want to read more?

On Facebook you can follow Sagitta Peters career and burnout coaching to stay informed on other blogs.

Do you have a questions about your personal development or career and do you want to learn more about how I can help you with that? Or do you experience burnout or other stress symptoms? Please
contact me to plan an introductory meeting. This 30 minute meeting is without obligations and free of charge. It will give you an impression how we could work on your questions or goals. After this meeting you can decide if you start coaching sessions with me or not.
On my English page you can read more about career coaching and burnout coaching and my way of working.

I’m looking forward to meeting you!