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14 April 2024

Stress management 101: Navigating academic pressure with poise

Shreyoshi Sharbojoya

Published: 08:27, 5 March 2024

Stress management 101: Navigating academic pressure with poise

Photo : Messenger

In the bustling realm of Bangladesh, a smaller world is hidden, one that encompasses students striving to reach their own finishing lines of success in a fiercely competitive race of academics. Expectations, deadlines, exams, and comparisons cause students to grapple with their abilities in an attempt to reach the finishing lines of this race. This ordeal of academia often establishes a daunting duo: stress and anxiety, with our minds frequently echoing their relentless affirmations of "what-ifs"—what if the A* is unachievable? What if I fail? What if I disappoint my parents? What if this is not for me? What if this subject is simply not meant for me? What if I can't? 

While we students are trapped in this world of ours, surrounded by uncertainties and a myriad of possibilities, it’s impossible to avoid the stress that comes with it. Nevertheless, we possess the power to alleviate its impact. If you're anything like me, scouring countless YouTube videos on a regular basis and trying out numerous monotonous self-help books for strategies, look no further. I've outlined some practical strategies below that, if correctly implemented, can uplift you when stress threatens to overpower. 

Read the following with a mindset that is ready to accept and adapt.

1: Eradicating the nefarious duo: anxiety and stress 

In the pages of my very own lexicon, anxiety is that mischievous cozener which hinders my progress and is accompanied by none other than stress; anxiety’s closest companion. I’m pretty sure most can relate to this definition I made. This nefarious duo tries to not let me pick up the pieces of myself that have fallen to the depths of a dark abyss, or in other words, procrastination. To be more precise, I used to put an exemplary amount of effort in focusing on the negatives rather than being determined to attain the positives.

But here's the gist of it all: Tackling anxiety isn't some prearranged fate; it's a conscious choice you get to make above anyone else, just like every conscious decision you make for yourself. Watching motivational content all day is not at all a profound way of tackling them; it kills the time and provides the much-needed release of dopamine because we feel like we are being productive. Rather than this vague approach, taking regular, consistent actions and maintaining them certainly is. Precisely, staying composed and concentrating on the task at hand instead of focusing on'stress’ and what “might or could” happen may even eradicate the feeling completely. This strategy may sound simple and even futile to many to an extent, but its results are far from trivial. 

2: Mr. Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s prediction 

Further elaborating on strategy 1, proactively pondering upon your stress and anxiety in the first place shows that you worry for your academic well-being; it reflects on your commitment towards your goals. This should assure you that you are not as lost as your mind would have you believe. A quote from Seneca reads, “We suffer more often in our imagination than in reality”, which is a perfect example of what we, as students, face on a daily basis. These are the words I have written on a piece of flawless powder blue that I have pasted at the upper corner of my desk!

3: Thank yourself 

Although it's easier said than done, as a student, you must also learn to show gratitude to yourself. While preparing for my O levels, I used to often question myself, overthink, and overstress above all, no matter how punctiliously I studied or how many past papers I solved. It almost felt felonious to get questions wrong and almost always felt that nothing I did was enough. In those fleeting instances, taking deep breaths and meditating caused nothing but a brief lung expansion extravaganza!

Well, if you find yourself in a similar situation, then instead of taking deep breaths or even thinking about traditional meditation tactics; close your eyes and reflect on all the time and energy you’ve invested into whatever you’re fearing won’t work. Tell yourself that doubting yourself is a major setbackand the worst thing you could be doing to yourself in that moment. It is one of the contributing factors to your anxiety and stress. So, instead of scolding yourself mentally, applaud for how far you’ve come and how much you’ve endured, even if it is as far as just trying. Pat yourself on the back, because none of it is easy.

4: The role of those who teach & provide 

Remember that having an outlet is exceptionally important. After receiving quite a blow during one of my O levels, I was more than just appalled per se. And with 10 more board exams to go, I lacked the energy to withstand them all. In other words, I was simply drained mentally and physically, to an extent. The sadness I felt after taking that exam was strongly correlated with disappointing my parents. Most students in Bangladesh face such crises, often regularly. The best thing I did at that moment was talk to my strict yet incredibly loving Bengali mother about it. Although most would not, remember that it is your loved ones who understand you the most. Letting my dread out to her made it all feel a hundred times lighter. Almost as if this invisible force shared some of its strength and all of a sudden I, too, entailed the power to tackle the remaining board exams.

This may seem trivial coming from a stranger, but confiding in those who teach and provide would be the wisest decision you could make in situations where you feel lost.

Amidst numerous tips and strategies, the aforementioned ones had the most impact in developing me to a less stressed student and individual. All in all, stress management is a personal journey. How you approach yours is entirely dependent on you. Explore these tips and apply them in your lives so that you can avoid the mishaps I got into and eventually, learn to tackle stress like a pro! 

The writer is an AS student of Scholastica with a passion for improving her own life and helping those around her.