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STUDENT VOICE: Stress Awareness Month – Finding Your Balance

The Verse’s Chanelle Manton talks about her experiences of stress and how she manages it on a day-to-day basis. 

I get stressed. As the editor of The Verse, the role takes its toll more than I care to admit. When combined with employment, voluntary work, and other responsibilities and personal challenges, I often view my degree as a welcome break from it all. But then, of course, as the deadlines roll around, this reverses: The Verse becomes my pathway to procrastination and the thought of compiling a literature review encourages a reconsideration of life choices. Ultimately, stress has become a part of my everyday life, resembling an extra limb: unwelcome, inconvenient, but useful for juggling.

We all need an element of stress in our lives; it means that we care about what we are doing. It’s when stress becomes overwhelming, when it cripples our ability to live happily and healthily, that changes become necessary. For me, I spontaneously developed eczema around my eyes a few months back. Having never been a sufferer of the skin condition before, I was taken aback and tried desperately to place what was causing it. Consequently, my self-esteem took a hit. The stress-cycle continued, unbeknownst to me that the cause of the problem was, you guessed it, stress.

Below I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks I use for managing stress; I have picked these up during my time studying, with the help of important people in my life, and an epiphanic moment on my recent trip to Vietnam.

Be realistic

This one comes to you from the queen of spreading herself thin. Personally, I function at my best when I have one hundred things to do – or at least, I think this is the case. However, it’s so easy to burn out. If I’m having a bad day, I suddenly feel as though I’m buried under an avalanche of to-do lists and give up on everything altogether. I become the antithesis of productivity, the last lump of butter spread across an entire loaf of bread.

Get organised

An age-old suggestion, but a necessary one. My addition to this advice would be to customise your organising: if you loathe to-do lists or scented highlighters, don’t use them. Find what works for you. I’m a journal girl myself; I’m really starting to embrace the creative potential of the Moleskin (or, in my case, a £1 alternative from Tiger).

Say no

A particularly tough one if you’re afraid of letting people down. However, true friends and relationships worth pursuing are those who understand, and more importantly encourage, the importance of your wellbeing. Similarly, taking on extra work should be done mindfully and somewhat selfishly. For me, I was petrified of giving up my voluntary placement because I felt a responsibility to help; this led to a decrease in enjoyment and an unnecessary source of anxiety every week. It’s OK to say no.

Take time out

I was lucky enough to spend my Easter in Vietnam, which allowed space for a new perspective. Leaving behind my responsibilities felt irresponsible and undeserved, but it was absolutely vital for my wellbeing. You don’t need to go international, either. With the encouragement of The Verse’s editorial team, I deleted my Gmail app for the duration of my holiday: the most simple of changes can make the most profound difference*.

*I did, of course, redownload the app on my return.

Find your balance

Perhaps the most important of all in order to live sustainably, yet the most difficult. I am no life-coach, but one thing I have learned recently is to ensure that I find my balance, no-one else’s. We each have different scales with different burdens to carry; try not to let other people’s expectations be your yardstick for success. I commemorated this idea with a tattoo of balancing scales in Vietnam – so it must at least have a bit of weight to it…

 

 

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