In preparation for Stress Awareness Month, Our Well Being Practitioner Monica Troughton has recently presented assemblies which included a short meditation, on how the words we use can change how we deal with the strains of everyday life.
Here she gives her thoughts about what we mean when we ‘feel stressed’:
Sometimes we need to find the right word to describe how we are feeling. I’d like to begin by focusing on the difference between stress, anxiety, depression, nervousness and the fact that a panic attack quite often isn’t a panic attack but can be a high-anxiety moment.
I am hoping to phase out the word ‘stress’ from my vocabulary and replace it with words that describe more closely what a student is feeling and why. Stress so often infers, ‘I can’t do anything and I can’t cope’ and leaves students feeling powerless. Stress is too much of a blanket term.
For example, if a student has not revised they may experience a high level of anxiety - this is not stress. It feels like stress but this anxiety can be dealt with. By narrowing down what the student is experiencing, using the right words, we can offer possible solutions. In this case, I would say the feelings of anxiety will be alleviated when the student feels ‘on top of things’, in other words, in control.
It is a normal feeling if a student is nervous because of a looming exam; although being slightly nervous can be a good thing. Some ways of addressing this can be through physical activity such as running or exercising. Also helpful is sensible eating, getting good sleep, meditation, chanting (Mongolian Overtone chanting in particular) and using language that doesn’t feed the feeling of nervousness.
We all experience anxiety and nervousness and some life experiences can be challenging and upsetting but can learn to look at things in a different way. Thankfully, nothing is permanent, things happen and change. Everything helps us grow and nothing we go through is ever wasted.
Consider what you can change: eating well and mindfully, cutting sugar and processed foods, quit using the phone after 7pm if you want to feel more in control. Go for a walk, get everything you need for the next day ready the night before and get used to silence. These can all help.
Miss Troughton offers individual sessions to students and staff and runs small groups for students at lunchtime which include mediation, singing bowls as an aid to deep relaxation, chanting and meditation.