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Stress

Do you sometimes find yourself getting annoyed at every little thing? If so, know that you’re not alone. The stresses of everyday life can add up and make us irritable and tense. When homework and exams, roommate issues, dating and conflicts with parents are put together, they can make life feel overwhelming.

You might end up overreacting and taking out your frustrations on whoever is nearby. In some people, the stress builds up inside and makes them vulnerable to serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure (yes, college students can have high blood pressure, too), headaches, muscle aches and other physical ailments.

Tips on how to reduce feeling frustrated and irritable and increase feeling calm and relaxed:

  • Exercise. When you are feeling annoyed, take a walk or go for a run. Exercise can be a great stress reliever by allowing you to blow off steam. Exercise decreases levels of stress hormones (such as cortisol) and increases endorphins (your body’s “feel good” chemicals), which give your mood a natural boost. Taking a walk also allows you to leave the situation that is frustrating you, so you can take a break and return with a fresh perspective.
  • Deep Breathing. If you can’t leave the situation by taking a walk, you can try deep breathing exercises. When we are stressed, the breaths we take are shorter and more shallow than normal. Deep breathing is beneficial because it gets more oxygen into your body and releases physical tension. Concentrating on taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly also helps to clear and focus your mind. Just focusing your attention on breathing makes it slower and deeper. You can also try counting to six while you breathe in, counting to six while you hold the breath, and counting to eight as you exhale slowly. This allows you to fill your lungs with oxygen and release everything in a controlled manner. These exercises are free, simple and can be done anytime, no matter where you are.
  • Listening to music. Turn on some music that makes you happy. You can also try singing along or dancing to the music—again, more ways to increase those endorphins.
  • Keeping things in perspective. Try not to let the minor things cause you major problems. If a little thing annoys you, such as your brother playing his music at max volume, or people moving at a turtle’s pace in front of you, try to see it for what it is— not a big deal! Ask yourself, “What am I really upset about? What can I do to fix it?” Take a step back and look at the big picture. It is easy to lose sight of the “big picture” and let the little things seem far larger than they actually are. If you can stop, take a deep breath and take another point of view, chances are you’ll feel better.

How do you know if you need help?

It’s normal to have feelings of frustration and irritation from time to time, and even snap at people once in awhile. But if you’re feeling intensely frustrated much of the time or having problems with friends and family because you are annoyed so often, talk to a counselor at school, your parents, a professor or someone you trust about getting help from a mental health professional. Irritability may be a sign of depression and not just the result of stress. Learning to deal with frustration in healthy ways will likely have a positive effect on all areas of your life.

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