You know that feeling when you need to urgently achieve a task or meet a deadline that you have passed 2 weeks ago ! Well, its called stress.
Many young people like me face a lot of stress regularly from juggling important activities to minor but urgent tasks. For example, I am a medical student in my penultimate year; about to write my professional exams and I currently supervise several teams in my youth-led organization-Protostar Initiative. With our newly launched platform that allows easy access to mental health professionals and a story-telling platform, we are trying to scale our services to reach more people in Nigeria. As a start-up non-profit trying to scale in a time of financial crisis as the international pandemic, the pressure is almost physical as we are weighed on achieving our plans of fundraising, publicity and maximum impact.
So yeah, there is a strange mixture of anxiety fuelled by stress in my situation and that of my teammates. Did I forget to say I was about to write my professional exams before the ‘pandemic holiday’ ? I did and I know what you are thinking, more time to read yeah? Well, try spending 10 weeks in a lockdown reading in your house that was specifically designed for resting and sleeping. One word for this- MONOTONY.
For me, this isn’t my first time trying to beat deadlines and handle several projects very effectively. Infact, this might sound a bit crazy but I don’t like being too free. I always try to find an activity to do. There’s this euphoria that comes with having deadlines to beat and coming up with plans & back-up plans and strategies and all. Well, as addictive as this is, at the end of the day, I am always stressed and constantly need rejuvenation.
So here’s a perspective from myself- a medical student, Team Lead of a fast-growing network, constant “applier of opportunities” (y’all know how crazy that stuff is), avid reader of Stanford Social Innovation Review and researcher with 4 unpublished papers till date (see what I am talking about).
In no particular order, this is a summary of what I do pre-covid and during covid to relive stress:
Time-tables and Prioritizing
Normal free extra-curriculum time during school period varies for every student. There are the entrepreneurs with their businesses, the sporty ones or the ‘movie-series’ people. Mine is with organizing projects with my organization while trying to develop myself personally & professionally in the process. With quite a number of activities, here’s what I do; to not just relieve stress but to minimize and prevent it. Normally, I create a time-table of activities to be done and have a mental table separating important activities from urgent ones and then select activities based on what is urgent and important per time. I have also recently found out that reminders and google calendar is a useful tool in following time-tables.
Support groups are simply your group of casual friends or families who you have similar interests with OR they could be more. As a coping mechanism, I always encourage people to talk to friends and families frequently; share challenges with them, what’s up to date with your life, your achievements etc; doing this always keeps me on my feet. Your close ties are people who might not have the best advice for your challenges as they would most likely be people in your age group. One thing is for sure however, you would always be motivated to do more or the very least, not demotivated to stop what you are doing. Support systems are usually built on trust, compassion and shared in interests.
One thing I have found effective is having a reward system for myself. After attaining a milestone, I go on short breaks and indulge myself. These breaks would just be a day or two however, they are very crucial to my mental health. On these not-too-frequent days of breaks, I try as much not too think too much of the activities on my hands, focus on relaxing and watch a movie series.
Most “Un-Nigerian” thing I ever did was to get a stress ball very recently. For many people, stress balls are a perfect way to relieve built-up tension and stress but as I have found out, it doesn’t work for me. To me, the method of relieving and controlling stress for everyone is individualized. So figure out what works best for you as soon as you can.
There you have it! A summarized stress-reliever hack. If you were sure you were going to see some meditation techniques and yoga breathing exercise as part of my stress relive methods, well- sorry to disappoint.