It’s a busy time of year for our students here at Shillington. Stress levels are high and time is tight. But you’re in luck—Australian Studio Manager Kevin Highdale to the rescue!
Each of you has a unique life story that led you to study with us, but there is something that you collectively share. The dedication and determination to transform a hardwired passion for design from an interest into a creative career. There’s no denying that studying a new skill, or improving on those we already have, opens up a whole new world of opportunity.
As Shillington students, you have the added advantage that you’re not just studying any old course to get any old job, you’re studying a subject that you love. Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If this is true, then it’s smooth sailing after graduation. Right?
In the meantime, however, there is that pesky matter of actually completing the course! And unfortunately—it isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s undeniable that you are passionate, hardworking, enthusiastic and driven individuals, but you are in fact still human. And this means that you’re just as susceptible to the body’s natural response to external pressures as anyone else on the planet. Stress!
Thankfully, there are just as many remedies to avoid stress, as there are causes of it. And although we all have our favourites, I feel that these nine are particularly suited to the stresses encountered when studying.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people overlook this one. We’re talking about pre-planned, positive relaxation here. Specifically take time out of your day to get a massage, take a bath, read a book, listen to music, play with your pet or do whatever else you usually do to relax. Regular relaxation can improve memory, boost immunity and even keep us slim!
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to having sugary and fatty snack foods as pick-me-ups. Try to avoid the vending machine and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good. Also, try to get more fish rich in omega-3, which has been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food. Oh, and no skipping breakfast!
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the block or simply standing up to stretch can offer immediate relief when feeling stressed. When you get your blood moving it releases endorphins (the happy hormones) which can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
It’s all too easy for many of us to reach for an alcoholic drink, light up a cigarette or go grab that extra coffee when we start to feel a little stressed out. But believe it or not, your favourite stress-busters have more chance of increasing your stress levels than anything else. Both alcohol and nicotine are poisons. They cause the body to release adrenaline and cortisol, literally putting us into fight-or-flight mode. Along with the stimulant affects of excess caffeine, this can increase blood pressure and seriously reduce the quality of our sleep. If you simply can’t do without your fix, at least make a conscious effort to cut back. Everything in moderation, folks!
Did you know that sloths sleep from 15 to 18 hours per day? And have you ever seen a stressed-out sloth? No, me neither! They are obviously doing something right. Lack of sleep can be a key cause of stress. Make it a point to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Turn the TV off earlier, manage your time, and do your best to get into bed. This may be the most important stress-less strategy on my list!
Deep breathing, body awareness, yoga, pilates, tai chi and meditation are just a few examples of mindfulness techniques that are designed to help put our bodies into a state of deep relaxation. By taking just 20 minutes every day to concentrate on the inward and outward flow of the breath and clear our minds through meditation, we can actively reverse and even prevent the affects of stress. This state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good hormones such as serotonin, reduced heart rate and boosted immunity. Ommmmm…
We are living in the age of Netflix. Lying on the sofa and binge-watching an entire series of our favourite show is now considered a perfectly acceptable way to spend a Saturday. But believe it or not, what we watch can actually shape how we feel. Tense thrillers and terrifying horror movies can actually increase our levels of stress hormones. Ever been tapped on the shoulder during a particularly tense scene in a slasher movie? This is a classic display of fight-or-flight. Best to stick to a feel-good movie or, better still, a comedy. Laughter actually releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
We all know the old adage: “A problem shared is a problem halved.” And although it sounds like the sort of rubbish you might find in a fortune cookie or your weekly horoscope, it is actually not a bad piece of advice. Talking through your stresses with a trusted friend allows you to see things from a different perspective and will usually result in making light of your situation. Surrounding yourself with positive people and a strong support network can help to buffer the negative effects of stress.
Although being organised doesn’t exactly sound like fun, it really is important to have an anti-stress battle plan. Keep your relaxation time managed and don’t bend from the schedule. Avoid stressful situations and people. Have your coping strategies in place. And recognise your stress cues. Remember, the best form of offence is defence—so be prepared!
Sending out positive vibes to all of our Shillington students, all over the world. Whether you have recently graduated, you’re prepping your portfolio or you’re right in the middle of the course; remember your goals and remember that the Shillington team is here to support you. We’re behind you 100 percent!