By: Eman Cheema
University can be—and undeniably is—extremely competitive. It demands the highest quality of human functionality—students are expected not only to compete for spectacular grades with their peers and classmates, but establish themselves socially and politically within the university community.
This survival-of-the-fittest expectation in the current education system originates from the economy: the better one does in school, the better the job one gets; the better the job one gets, the more money one makes; the more money one makes, the better the standard of living. Students are given this message from a very early age: one must be the absolute best at everything.
This sort of extreme competition becomes unhealthy and manifests itself in the form of stress, as succeeding determines not only self-worth, but also the method of measuring the ability to sustain oneself.
Fortunately enough, the pressing predicament is not without appropriate remedy. Not all stress is bad, it is only when stress is in excess that we react in ways that are often harmful or destructive. Before coming up with a comprehensive plan of action, it is important to be able to identify the source(s) of stress. Once that is done, reflect upon how it is currently dealt with.
Be critical of the choices made in regards to relaxation, and whether or not they are effective. Unhealthy ways of dealing with stress include but are not limited to: overeating, under-eating, drinking, smoking, excessive consumption of TV, prolonged self-isolation, sleeping too much, using drugs or pills to unwind, procrastinating, having outbursts of negative emotion, busying oneself to avoid facing problems, etc. If current methods of coping with stress are not contributing to greater emotional and physical health, it is time for change; it’s time to to adapt to new practices and to pursue healthier options.
There are plenty of ways to healthily manage anxiety and keep stress levels low. Other than activities and practices that can be incorporated into daily life to stay healthy, UofT offers a range of programs and workshops to promote mental well-being. Here is a list of things to prevent getting overwhelmed with pressure:
1. Make to-do lists.
Organize your time, to ensure the completion of all necessary tasks. Do not forget to make time for relaxation, however. Dedicate time in which you do something you enjoy to nurture a healthier you.
2. Start writing in a journal. Studies have shown that writing about negative aspects of your day tends to dilute the impact it has on you, freeing you of unnecessary stress.
3. Spend time in nature.
Be it for a walk, to garden, to play a sport; the Great Outdoors are known to be able to induce mental serenity and calm.
4. Pamper yourself.
Take a long bath, light scented candles, or get a massage.
Engage in some stimulating conversation with people you trust and care about.
Sweat out your frustrations. It not only improves your cardio, but also produces hormones in your body that motivate you to cope with stress and anxiety in a rational manner.
These stress management strategies involve physical exertion, relaxation, laughter, connection or genuine enjoyment. They can easily be incorporated within busy schedules and routines. For something that is a little more conducive to building new relationships within the UofT community, there are a number of Health and Wellness programs offered by the University, as well as the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
For example, throughout November and the first half of December, there are Coping Workshops being offered on Tuesdays and Fridays by UofT Health and Wellness in the Group Room B on the Mezzanine Level in the Koffler Student Centre at 214 College Street. They deal with lifestyle, behavior, emotions and cognition to improve methods of dealing with stress and anxiety. Similarly, the UofT Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education offers drop-in daily fitness classes for students to take advantage of in order to improve their health.
Details and schedules for all on-campus activities can be found online.
For Health and Wellness: http://healthandwellness.utoronto.ca/
For UofT Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education Drop-In Programs: http://physical.utoronto.ca/FitnessAndRecreation/Drop_In_Programs.aspx
Adopting healthier alternatives to less-effective, unhealthier options can be difficult and may often seem futile or time-consuming. Given the impacts it can have on mental and physical health, it is most definitely necessary. There are opportunities to improve within the community, and they are more than welcoming to all those seeking to grow.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-inside/combating-mental-exhaustion/.