Brighten Youth Education Centre



Beating background stress


This time of year can be very traumatic for students, especially for those going off to university or being promoted to a higher academic year group. It’s just as bad for those of us with jobs. Many of us in Hong Kong know that advice given by clinicians about reducing our workload in order to manage stress can be impractical, especially if we hope to keep our jobs or maintain our self-mapped career trajectory. So what we’re going to do today is offer a few tips on how you might reshape your weekly schedule in order to help manage ever-present stress.

Learning to manage stress is really not something that can be put off until later. Repeated scientific studies have demonstrated that background stress can cause numerous detrimental health issues including headaches, higher blood pressure (which in itself can lead to scary consequences later in life), disrupted sleep, an increased risk of heart attacks, memory loss and stomach problems. People experiencing stress are also at risk from increased weight-gain as when your body is stressed it releases a hormone call cortisol, which slows down your metabolism. Add to this the fact that stressed people are often required to work long hours (food eaten late at night is harder to shift at the gym) and are short on time, so they don’t have time for proper breaks for health food and tend to snack on calorific alternatives. So, the earlier in life you can incorporate some of these good habits, the better your mind and body will be in the long run.

One thing that is definitely not helpful is hitting the town and drinking alcohol to unwind. While a single glass of red might help, alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, has all kinds of other health risks. Instead, during your downtime, head home and find a repetitive task to complete, preferable one that’s tech-free. A seemingly boring task like doing the dishes allows your brain to wander and reset. Then, consider a warm bath or hot shower, which often produced the same physiological sensation as emotional warmth, and it never hurts to pamper yourself. If stress is keeping you up at night, consider progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and releasing different groups of muscles as you lay in bed at night, a process that can be repeated until you fall asleep. Regular exercise is also vital. While meditation and yoga involve techniques designed to focus the mind, such activities aren’t for everyone, so get out and go for a walk or jog, preferably in natural light and preferably without you headphones as an extra distraction. Lastly, don’t forget to hang out with good friends and do something that makes you laugh. Laughter releases endorphins, which reduce stress and help create a feeling of wellbeing.


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