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Beating the stress monster

Aun Ngo

Fri Apr 24 2009


RAVI Lulla, International Counsellor from The University of Melbourne says stress is a natural feeling designed to help us cope in challenging situations.

“In small amounts, it’s good because it pushes you to work hard and do your best. Stress heightens the senses and your reaction times, which means it can have the benefit of enhancing your performance in exams,” he said.

But while some stress may be good for you, too much of it can have an adverse effect on our physical and mental well-being, Mr Lulla said.

The first signs of stress overload include irritability, sleep problems, headaches, dizziness and loss of appetite. Other symptoms are a dry mouth, churning stomach, palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath and depression.

In more serious situations, students can experience “anxiety attacks” ranging from feelings of uneasiness to severe and paralysing panic.

Mr Lulla offers some tips for managing stress.

Keep things in perspective

“Keep things in perspective. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t do well on this test?” Mr Lulla said.

“Excessive stress could hurt your performance on tests, so as much as you can, relax,” he advised.

Students who have serious problems with anxiety during final exams should also learn to seek help from their university or school counselling centre, he said.

Manage your body

Burning the midnight oil may hurt you more than you think. Get sufficient rest, sleep and eat properly.

Exercise is also a good way of keeping a lid on stress. Five minutes of stretching and ten to fifteen minutes of cardio can go a long way.

“And if you are feeling tense, it is important to calm your body through relaxation exercises such as slow breathing. Otherwise, your mind will not be able to remember what you have studied,” Mr Lulla said.

Get organised

Feel in control by managing your time well.

“This means getting an idea as to how much time you have every day and setting goals based on breaking down your workload.

“And prioritise. You have limited time to study and will have to choose how to spend it wisely and efficiently,” Mr Lulla said.

Studying with friends who have a similar goal can also help instil discipline and cultivate good study habits.

Don’t be afraid of asking for help from lecturers, tutors and classmates either.

“If you’re confused about your notes or the readings, seek help quickly,” Mr Lulla said.

Balance and positivity

As a final word of advice, it’s important to have a balanced life and be positive in our approach to meeting challenges, Mr Lulla said.

“Learn from your mistakes and be confident of your strengths,” he said.