Following a freak migraine attack involving paralysis and stroke-like symptoms in November of 2016, it became evident that I needed to change my lifestyle in terms of coping with stress and balancing various aspects of my life, as I had clearly been going about these in a manner I could no longer manage.
In light of my slightly odd, yet very uncomfortable experience, I had a handful of people telling me what not to do rather than what to do. Upon all the negative feedback, naturally, I was faced with answering the question of how can, or rather should, I deal with stress?
By definition, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. While this is true, stress manifests itself differently in each individual following however much exposer to events, feelings, etc. Clearly, I had reached my own ‘stress-limit’.
Over the months that passed, I began to adjust my sleeping and working habits, seeing how this would affect my migraines and chronic headache. Ultimately, I discovered that my migraines were either always triggered by stress, and/or emotion and there were ways I could avoid getting these and feel a lot more comfortable with my work load.
Although I can’t specifically give any advice that will specifically help anyone’s individually, I have learned a few things that might be beneficial to you regarding how to cope with stress, making it more bearable:
Don’t stress about stressing. Stress is normal, everyone around you is exposed to it and at one point, everyone will have their own little freak-out. Everyone, at least in school, is in the same boat as you. The sooner you learn to ‘come to turns’ or almost ‘accept’ the fact that you’re stressed, the easier it will be, in future, to calm down and sort yourself out. If you’re busy panicking about how much work you have to do, or how little time you have remaining to complete something, the less you can use your time effectively to finish and keep yourself from going insane.
Learn how to best organize yourself around your schedule. Although this is rather time consuming, understanding how you physically cope best with chores will benefit you in terms of executing these more coherently and effectively, leaving you with more time for yourself. For example, once developing my migraines, I found I was less tiered and best produced my work knowing I had time before the deadline and ‘during the day-light’. I also found that I needed to be well-rested and almost in a good mood to get my work at a standard I was happy with. Hence, I adjusted my work method accordingly. This also lead to an improvement in my grades and overall level of happiness.
Efficiency is key. This is closely linked to the previous two points; once you learn how you best learn or deal with various activities as well as stop stressing about stress, you can more quickly become effective in what you’re doing, leaving yourself with more ‘me-time’ or time to complete other things requiring your attention.
Maintaining a balance in both work, sports, socializing and ‘me-time’ is demanding, but very necessary. Integrating these various aspects in to your weekly routine helps keep your mind at ease and therefore cope with the demands of school and all that it brings better.
With IB exams coming in a few weeks, I believe becoming a more efficient learner and handling stress more effectively has been very beneficial. All in all, my experience with migraines definitely wasn’t pleasant, however significantly helped me learn about myself. I hope these few tips are eye opening and possibly help you adjust to coping with stress more effectively.