Young adults, especially college students, are becoming increasingly more stressed, whether it’s about school, relationships, jobs, or simply thinking about their future. Sometimes these worries are inevitable, especially when it comes down to crunch time for finals week or you’re feeling bombarded with tasks at work.
The good news is that you’re not alone — about 85 percent of college students report feeling overwhelmed by everything they have going on in a given year, and over 40 percent say anxiety is the top concern among college students.
This stress doesn’t have to be completely negative, though. In fact, positive stress does exist — it’s called eustress, and its short-term effects help motivate you and focus your energy on constructive tasks. Here are a few ways to help turn your minor stressors into productivity:
1. Recognize that anxiety is part of the process.
Sometimes, anxiety is inevitable. Certain obligations and events will always create stress, and once you acknowledge that, it may become easier to experience these feelings during the process.
2. Use your stress to help you prioritize.
If you’re stressing about it, chances are it’s important to you. Figure out what worries you most and focus on accomplishing that first, especially if it’s a larger task. Getting something major over out of the way can make all your other tasks seem easier to complete in the long run.
3. Channel anxious energy into productive activities.
Anxiety causes you to release adrenaline, which triggers your body’s natural fight or flight survival response. When you find yourself anxious about something, use this energy to ask yourself what you need to get done and start finishing small tasks or steps to reach your goal.
4. Be realistic.
Not everything you do has to be perfect, especially when you’re under significant pressure. Sometimes, just getting the task done is an accomplishment in and of itself — even without all the bells and whistles. Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals, and you’ll be more satisfied with the outcome, especially if you exceed your own expectations.
5. Try not to do something for the sake of doing something.
Make your actions meaningful. When we find ourselves stressed, it can be easy to choose an unrelated task or procrastinate to divert our attention elsewhere. While this may be helpful in the short-term, you may find yourself more behind and stressed about your original task later on. Instead, choose to either complete tasks that get you closer to your goal or practice self-care methods to reduce your feelings of anxiety.
6. Reward yourself.
Stress is taxing, both physically and emotionally. Over 77 percent of Americans say they regularly experience physical symptoms due to stress, and almost half of Americans say stress has negatively impacted their personal or professional lives. Congratulate yourself for getting through a stressful time regardless of whether you achieved your goal or not. Reward yourself for persevering, whether that takes form in an extra hour of sleep or some personal time curled up with your favorite book.
Keep in mind that these tips are not solutions to long-term anxiety or anxiety disorders, only ways to utilize situational anxiety to your advantage. Remember to take some time for yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if the stress keeps adding up or starts affecting your mood.