From Surviving to Thriving-Managing Stress in the Social Work Setting

As we approach the middle of the semester, the pressures are ramping up. Multiple assignments are due in the same week, while our responsibilities in the field start to increase as well. Being right there in the middle of everything happening between classes, field, and personal life, can most certainly cause a bit of stress. A little bit of stress is inevitable, but too much stress can be really hard on the body, both physically and emotionally. When I start to get too bogged down with juggling all these responsibilities, I think about something one of my classmates recently shared, as it is great way to frame this time in our lives as social work students:

  • This is temporary
  • This is voluntary
  • This is for a bigger goal (that degreeeeee!)

That being said, there’s still a lot of potential to feel stressed and overwhelmed throughout the semester, so I’ve compiled a list that has helped me over this last year and a half and can hopefully help you in whatever responsibilities you’re balancing.

  • Reflect- What is it that’s causing the stress? You may need to meditate (see below for a few mediation links) or journal to get to the root of it, however once you’re able to identify triggers, you can move forward with finding solutions.
  • Reframe stress by thinking about positive points– Negative thinking can exacerbate your stress, reflecting on what’s going well can help shift your thoughts into more positive patterns.
  • Reach out to your social supports- Talking with other students about stress can be a helpful way to both process and relate. Likewise, reaching out to friends, family, and anyone else important in your life is also helpful.
  • Management your time effectively- Prioritize and reprioritize as necessary. Make sure you have not only important deadlines on your calendar, but specific time carved out during the week to work on all of those assignments. Another part of time management is making the time to do the things you love, so make sure you’re making the time to take care of yourself as well (I say make because it’s not always possible to find the time).
  • Make time to exercise – If you have particular exercises you enjoy, be sure to include them in your week. Exercise doesn’t have to be high impact and aerobic. Walking for 20 or 30 minutes can help you unwind or provide an energy boost in the middle of day.
  • If you can’t change your circumstances, change your mind- How you interpret your situation has an effect on how you feel about it. Remember to focus on a growth mindset that allows you to learn in the face of adversity and be grateful for each and every experience that comes your way.
  • Relax- Practice relaxation techniques including mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or massage. Stress can have very negative physical effects on the body. When you take the time to address those, you can find yourself in a state to better handle the full plate that is graduate school.

 While you may not be able to avoid stress completely stay aware of your stress, what triggers you, and focus on the positive solutions. In just a matter of weeks, the semester will be done and you will have made it through!

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