Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

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Valor grows by daring, fear by holding back.
Publilius Syrus, Sentences (circa 100 BC)

Guide to Reflective Thinking: My Stress Management Strategies

Use the following statements to assess your sense of competence with regard to university studies. Any weak areas indicate an attitude, ability or habit that may be worth developing.

  • I know my sources of stress and my usual reactionsI can foresee stressful circumstances and contexts.
  • I know when stress can have a positive or negative influence on me.
  • I know what I feel when I am stressed - excited, enthusiastic, frustrated, angry, aggressive, anxious, panicked, depressed, etc.
  • I know what images and thoughts come to mind when I am under pressure.
  • I am aware of the irrational beliefs that are at the source of my stress: if I am not the best, I am worthless; if I make a mistake, it is unforgivable; if I don't understand right away, I will never understand; if I find it difficult, I am incompetent; etc.
  • I am familiar with my usual defense mechanisms: I deny being stressed, I repress my emotions, I blame others, I pity myself, I minimize the importance of the situation, etc.
  • I control my thoughts and internal dialogueIn difficult situations, I use encouraging self-talk.
  • When I take on big challenges, I de-dramatize the stakes.
  • I have a personal arsenal of positive but realistic alternatives to my defeatist thoughts.
  • I recognize the positive aspects of my actions; not only my mistakes.
  • I congratulate myself after confronting a difficulty, regardless of the outcome.
  • I examine and question my beliefs and values.
  • I progressively desensitize myself using emotional distancing, de-dramatization and humor.
  • I view exams as opportunities to perfect my training and as learning experiences.
  • I view exams as opportunities to validate my skills and have my achievements recognized.
  • I have full control over my bodyI know several effective ways to relax before, during and after stressful situations.
  • I know and regularly practice breathing exercises.
  • In stressful situations, I calm myself by focusing on and controlling my breathing.
  • In stressful situations, I focus on relaxing my tense muscles.
  • I know how to relax zones where stress accumulates: hands, face, eyes, nape of the neck, feet.
  • I know and practice a variety of stretching and flexibility exercises.
  • I have developed a short routine that can be used discretely during exams, classroom presentations and in team work situations.
  • I drink sufficient amounts of water when in stressful situations.
  • I make time to replenish my energy, relax and exercise after stressful situations.
  • I never infringe upon my regular sleep time.
  • I avoid or moderate smoking, coffee and alcohol consumption, eating sweets, etc.
  • I develop my self-regulation skillsI develop learning and problem-solving strategies.
  • I control my agenda and study environment.
  • When I study, I arrange it so that I avoid any time pressure.
  • I choose favorable and pleasant work environments.
  • I develop a personal support network: classmates, friends and recourse to specialized assistance.
  • I start preparing for exams at the beginning of the semester.

A certain level of stress is conducive to intellectual efforts and learning, but if our stress level is too high for too long it interferes with learning, weakens our motivation and eventually takes a toll on our physical and psychological health. There are many sources of stress: poor organization, poor planning, disorderly time management, not setting priorities, negative thoughts, guilt, and ignorance of the effects of stress itself and of strategies to control it. The times when we're preparing for exams or other end-of-semester work are for many reasons the most stressful according to students. Stress is not inevitable and we can learn to control and reduce it if we attack it at the source.Less stress means more pleasure in learning.

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