Tips for Managing School and Holiday Stress

Tips for Managing School and Holiday Stress

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I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and a great first half of the school year! Right now I am going through my first semester final exams here at the University of Florida, and I’m taking a study break to write this. In celebration of it being finals week across the country and then the holidays, I want to talk about stress and stress management.

The feeling of being overwhelmed seems to happen an awful lot for those of us on the autism spectrum or with other isms, and what causes it really depends on the person. Whether it be sensory-related, situations or feelings, we get stressed.

Tips to Alleviate School Stress
Here are four tips to help decrease your stress and move on from this feeling of being overwhelmed.

Distract yourself by doing something unrelated and fun. On Tuesdays, I typically go out for lunch with one of my friends. With it being finals week, this past Tuesday we used our time to not to freak out about finals or grades, but to just enjoy each other’s company while eating delicious food in a fun environment. We each felt better and more refreshed once we were away from the stress of studying in a library or dorm room, even though we hit the books once more after we finished talking and eating. Taking a break gives you time to think, relax and be yourself for a little while longer.

Talk about it! If something or someone is stressing you out, talk to a parent, trusted adult, or friend about what’s going on. You will instantly feel better by expressing your feelings and hopefully they will have some strategies to offer to help you cope.

Sleep and eat well. I know this sounds obvious, and maybe even a little silly, but when your body and mind are under stress, it is very easy to get sleep deprived, irritable, and hungry. Make sure to keep your body healthy so even if your brain is freaking out, your body will still be healthy. Keep good habits such as going to bed at a regular time and eating healthy.
Don’t forget to relax a little bit as well! Take a bath, go outside, watch TV – do something that will calm down your body.

Tips to Alleviate Holiday Stress
Once you get through finals, you now are faced with the stress that the holiday season can bring. Although a fun time of the year, family, gifts, and decorating can bring on some anxiety.

Try to be sensitive to your special-isms/challenges. For example, if you have a sensory stress involved with holiday lights, try to have your family not put them up. If that isn’t an option, talk through the situation and come up with an understanding.

If you are given a gift you don’t like or already have, don’t cry or freak out! Graciously say thank you and say you like it, and then after the fact, talk with your family or parents about exchanging the gift, returning it, or just keeping it anyway.

If you are buying gifts, think of the other person’s interest since you are buying a gift for someone else, not for yourself. If you don’t know what to buy, you can always make your own gift, which is super thoughtful and special!

If guests are coming into town, prepare yourself by finding out if they are staying in your house, for how long, and what the plans are. If there is any conflict, be prepared to handle it effectively and manage the stress involved there too.

I hope each and every one of you has a GREAT holiday as well as a Happy New Year, and I will see you in 2014!