Understand your child’s study stress

Looking at the students walking though the college corridors, they appear picture perfect.  But what lies below, doesn’t always surface until tipping point, when it manifests itself.  The competition for best exam results, deadlines, relationships, status and career choice are all aspects of your child’s college experience which can cause an unhealthy level of stress.

Stress triggers have been placed in four compartments, the environment, the stressors physiological, their thoughts and last but not least, the social stressor. The environment, physiological and social stressors contributors are pretty straight forward. Their thoughts, is a dimension which needs further navigation. We know how powerful both positive and negative thought can be. This is also the space where the student tends to places unnecessary pressure on themselves, to compensate for areas of their personality they may feel inadequate in.

Symptoms of stress appear in many forms. Some symptoms only impact the person who is directly experiencing stress, while other symptoms may have an impact on relationships with others.  Tell-tale signs of stress can once again be grouped into cognizant, physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms.  
Parents often feel helpless trying to figure out how to help.  You see your child treading water but fear that diving in will add to the emotional confusion they may be experiencing, alienating you even further.
Here are some helpful tips to help your navigate your loved ones to calmer waters.  
1. Understand how their body reacts to stress and take steps to reduce its harmful effects. Someone who is always feeling overwhelmed, eats poorly, and doesn't get enough sleep usually has a limited ability to cope with stressful events. By being proactive, you are able to reduce the effects which manifest.


2. Develop a balanced life-style. Learn specific relaxation techniques.  Yoga isn’t for everyone, but a brisk walk or intense session on the squash court could help you bounce back. Exercise also releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. 

3. Gain perspective on problems by discussing them, and learning to accept the things that you can’t change and take ownership of the things you can with a plan of action. Create an environment of trust and be empathetic, as this will help the individual gain new perspective to a situation which may appear catastrophic.

4. Clarify your values and develop a sense of spirituality and self. This requires some introspection, but once completed, a more serene you will emerge. Help them find their purpose and passion in life. Often decisions like career directions chosen by another may leave the person feeling despondent and dissatisfied with life as a whole.

Sometimes external intervention is required, but short of trying more drastic measures like getting an anti depresent script filled, try downloading an app, developed to help manage the feelings associated to stress.  

Happify (iOS, Android)
Eighty-six percent of people who use Happify report that they feel happier after two months of using the app. That's because Happify is based on the five things that make us happy. Opening the app, you can choose a track among many based on what you want to achieve, such as coping better with stress, dealing with negative thoughts or building self-confidence. Then you will be given various daily activities, games and quizzes to help you achieve your goal.

This column was contributed by False Bay TVET College for Media 24 - Peoples Post Education Column