Stress and anxiety weigh everyone down. Whether you’re a working college student trying to make rent or a high-schooler involved in myriad of extracurricular activities and sports teams, pressure is a given. Meeting deadlines, making practices and appointments on time, and getting schoolwork done (hopefully before class) all contributes to the high levels of stress and anxiousness experienced by younger generations. This can take a toll on young people’s personal and professional relationships. Friendships and relations with family may be neglected in order to make room for what’s “important” such as your education and career. But not only is maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends necessary for a healthy personal life, these relationships can be used to combat stress and increase well-being.
There’s no surefire way to eliminate stress and anxiety. They’re parts of life that we have to learn to cope with in the most productive way possible. One way of dealing with unwanted worry and tension however, is to take a step back and appreciate and, if need be, seek assistance from your support network. This is a group of people that you can count on for advice and validation. They recognize and respect your feelings, and are there for you when you are in need of encouragement, comfort, or just a pair of ears to listen to what you have to say.
Recognizing that you have a support network is the first step, and the most critical. We tend to look at our relationships in a very concrete way; he’s my brother, she’s my sister, they’re my family. They’re a coworker I’m close to, she’s someone I’ve known since kindergarten, they’re my friends. But viewing relationships in such a rigid way can sometimes make our circumstances seem more dire then they are. You might convince yourself you’re all alone because you haven’t hanged out with your usual group of friends for a couple weeks. Or you may not have talked to your parents in a while and feel lonely. Instead of separating the people you know into segregated social categories, it can be helpful to recognize the vast network of relationships that you’re linked to and can engage with in order to feel more connected and present. It is definitely true that someone’s relationship with a friend may not be as close as their relationship with a family member. But this doesn’t mean that that friend can’t be a vital member of a support network and contribute any less. Try pinpointing people from your life who you can count on for support, be they family, extended family, peers from school, coworkers, teammates, professors, etc.
Once your support network has been identified, tackling issues and problems becomes all the more easier. For example, if you’re having trouble balancing school and work, talk about your problem with a family member who you think might have some insight on organizing your time. Struggling with a class? Share study tips with a friend. A lot of this may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how often we tend to bottle up our problems or try and solve them on our own. We don’t want to “burden” others, or don’t think our issues warrant the attention of our closest friends and family. But collaboration and cooperation are how so many (if not all) of the world’s biggest problems get solved. Why not employ collaboration and cooperation on an individual level as well?
At the end of the day, stress is something that comes from all aspects of life, whether it be your education, your career, and yes, even your relationships. But having a positive space in which to engage and deal with what’s stressing you is important for personal health, and a strong support network of friends, families, and other important relationships and facilitate such a space.