Beating the stress monster

By Aya Al-Salti

Listen to Aya’s interview with Counsellor Samira Din on the negatives and positives of stress:

By: Anna Gutermuth

By: Anna Gutermuth


Stress is starting to affect a lot of society. Last year, Lifeline’s Stress Poll found that nearly two thirds of Australians were losing sleep over stress-related reasons.

Despite this, we curiously continue to brush it off like it’s nothing. Stress is definitely something; at worst it can overwhelm us, leaving our minds to hound us.

Stress is witty and has sass, because it leaves you speechless. It’s brutal and rude, because it intrudes on your psychology and frame of mind. But then, like that wicked double-fudge mud cake that we all love, it can also be beneficial in healthy doses. Stress can motivate us if it’s honed properly, allowing us to reach our full potential. Many high school graduates say that stress kept them on their toes. However, once you take that 1% of healthy stress, throw the other 99% of harmful stress out of your system.

It’s easy to fall into negative stress. Think of Mum at a family dinner on the first day of Ramadan. She flutters about, trying to set the plates of stuffed vine leaves, beef roast, biryani, chicken and mushroom soup all on the table in five minutes whilst preserving their pristine presentation. And don’t forget the samosas! As droplets fan her face, you know with certainty that it is not the right moment to ask her for something.

But why is that? Why is it that when you and I are in stressful situations, we don’t want to be approached? We have a palpitating ding-dong in our hearts, alarming us to an extent that can be quite harmful. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports:

“…Being overstressed can result in physical illnesses, and psychological illnesses such as anxiety and depression. These symptoms may also have adverse effects on family members and potentially result in relationship strains within the family unit…”

May Allah SWT safeguard our mothers, families and us from overly stressful situations.

However, in order to prevent falling into such overly stressful situations we must learn to understand stress and the ways in which we can relieve ourselves from it. And yes, fellow HSC student, I’m speaking to you. You’ve got your economics book open right now, with one pen writing away in your chemistry book – but you’ve just remembered that you also have an English essay due tomorrow!

You want to do well in your studies, to delight your parents (and yourself!) with your ATAR results. As a current HSC student, I understand these pressures completely. I too have subject, school and family commitments. In addition, I want to build my character. Having many different goals with no sense direction and organisation can stress anyone out.

And what about Mohammad and Sarah? At work withering away on the building plans and law documents that are due tomorrow. Their hearts too are beating in a ding-dong fashion. Stress isn’t discriminative: it’s not limited to gender or age. So how can we minimise this growing epidemic?

  • Understand that everything you will do and have done is reliant upon Allah SWT. Have faith in Him, and I assure you that with that tawakkul things will pan out.

  • Use a diary and organise your tasks

  • Set goals

  • Exercise and eat the right foods. Yes, that means eating fruits, veggies, legumes and the rest whilst taking only a small piece of that delicious double chocolate cake.

  • Minimise the amount of time spent on your electronic devices. From experience, whenever I have work to do and I procrastinate on my phone – whether by reading articles, texting my friends on Whatsapp or otherwise – I feel absolutely awful afterwards for time wasted.

And if stress ever becomes ever too strong, speak to someone about it. It doesn’t have to be a psychologist or a school counsellor, although both are great listeners. Speak to an older relative, a trusted older friend, or a mentor. They won’t judge, but they certainly will listen.

If you are experiencing overwhelming stress, see your doctor, talk to a counsellor or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Under 25s can also call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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