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Stress Management

Author: Pencil Case  Date: 22 August 2019

Less Stress = More Success

Stress can be a huge issue for a student that is studying. Stress can make our lives feel like a misery and we often will reach a point where stress actually makes us do worse than we otherwise would. Often, we can improve our results not by studying harder but by eliminating more stress. If we are to learn how to deal with stress we first need to understand where and how it exists.

I am going to turn to Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psychology, to help me here. Freud has a theory that humans are not pleasure maximisers, they are pain minimisers. For example, imagine you were standing on a very hot road in bare feet. Someone says to you "stay there, and I will give you a slice of a creamy chocolate mud cake. Or, you can get off the road and you get nothing". Almost everyone will get off the road because we would rather minimise the burning pain in our feet than maximise our chocolaty pleasure.

The same thing happens with study. For most people, study is a chore (pain) and we would rather avoid it if we can. At the start of semester, studying so far before an exam seems unnecessarily painful and so we choose to minimise our pain by not studying. We put it off until a later date (avoiding pain). However, we come to the night before the exam, and suddenly we realise that if we don't squeeze 6 months of study into our head in the next 6 hours we're going to fail big time! Now the pain of failing becomes greater than the pain of studying. In order to minimise our pain, we cram like we've never crammed before. The pain of cramming is less than the pain of failing and cramming is how we minimise the pain.

The problem with this story is that you are not reaching your potential. Most people will perform well below their best, and if success is your goal you need to try a different approach.

The moral of this story is a little coordinated pain now will minimise future pain, or for the non Freudians among you, maximise pleasure in the future.

Take a moment, close your eyes and have a think about what it is that causes stress for you. When you have had a moment to think about what stresses you. List them on a sheet of paper.

One of the biggest problems with stress is that we often ignore that we are feeling it and or don't know where it is coming from. If we are going to deal with it we need to get used to identifying when it exists. I bet you have written tests, exams or assignments on your sheet of paper. Something we will discover is that these things are not stressful! That's right, you heard me! A test is not stressful, it is your reaction to it that is.

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