Stress Management For International Students
Stress is a natural reaction of our bodies to uncertainty, demand, danger, or unexpectedness.
Although many people associate stress with an inherently bad connotation like psychological disbalance or intense grief, it’s not always necessarily negative. When we are talking about stress, it is imperative to distinguish between positive and negative stress. What does it mean to have “positive stress”? Generally, positive stress acts as a stimulus for your body to operate in a certain way. For example, it is an unequivocally helpful evolutionary mechanism for sensing danger and acting accordingly.
After being processed in your brain, this sense of danger relays to your body a call-to-action mode or, in other words, stresses your whole physicality to adapt to a disquieting or precarious situation. The most beaten-up example of that is a short-term adrenaline pump that your body produces to avoid a swift-leg feline mutilating your existence.
Positive and Negative Sides of The Same Reaction
However, what we today refer to as stress is on a whole different spectrum from being natural. The most significant difference here is that positive stress is not a chronic state, unlike abnormal negative stress. So, why is negative stress – negative?
Firstly, because it has apparent harmful side effects, as your body is not equipped to endure a prolonged state of overdrive, you are, in a sense, exhausting all of your physical resources at increased speed. This means that you are provoking your body to wear thin faster, which in turn manifests as a whole cornucopia of issues like rapid aging, neurological damage, mental degeneration, and circulatory problems.
Secondly, the reality of our world today is that we are exposed to much more varying stress factors. “If ten thousand years ago our ancestors weren’t much into incessant choice-juggling between career, personal life, marriage, and what cone of ice-cream flavor to buy daily, today this variety and complexity of our lives lay a certain strain upon our mental durability,” said Ben Grant, the Head of Marketing at Adsy. As such, we are much more prone to excite a stressful reaction out of ourselves when this temporary jolt is not relevant.
International Students – The Hardships of Adapting to a New Environment
Here we get closer to an actual topic of today’s discussions on how to deal with stress when you are a student in another country, coping with both homesickness and cultural estrangement. As was briefly mentioned at the beginning of the article, stress is a multifaceted reaction to mostly external factors. Major factors are uncertainty and unpredictability of the environment around you.
To expand a bit, here is an example. Imagine a Chinese guy flying over to the US to enter the university there. All of the horrors of bureaucracy aside, he is also rattled with a whole set of “culture shocks” and alienations from his norm of living. Food, lifestyle, clothing, levels of politeness – everything is implausibly different.
This causes the student to:
- Feel lonely and stranded,
- Not being able to concentrate on the tasks at hand,
- Yearn for some kind of human interaction,
- Feel depressed and constrained.
This is a warranted reaction that is brought about due to a sudden change in the entourage, social formalities, and even climate. What is the best and most reasonable approach to proceed from here for our Chinese protagonist?
3 Ways to Deal With Relocation-Induced Stress
Although for most people, it is just a transient occurrence that needs a little bit of adaptation to get used to, there are certainly cases that can trudge for a while longer or aggravate existing mental indentations in unwanted ways. Therefore, merely clenching your teeth and waiting for everything to take its course can be considered to be one of the ways to go about it. But why not make an effort to speed up the process?
There is an excellent paper that expands on the topic of stress that international students experience.
The question is then how to, if not wholly, eliminate this downhearted feeling but at the very least effectively come to grips with it and gradually recuperate, is an open one. There are several approaches that an international student in this situation can undertake, and we will make a thorough review of the best methods available.
Getting used to how things are done in a country you are going to relocate to beforehand is strongly advisable. This will help your brain not to be as overwhelmed by the sheer amount of novelties before you as it usually would. Reading about the main cultural differences or spending some time with natives might be a great strategy to follow. However, if you haven’t done your “homework” and hastily packed your bags and flew out, don’t chagrin just yet.
The best thing to do is to immerse and ease your way into a new cultural environment slowly and steadily. Don’t hesitate to be inquisitive and ask about the traditions, culture, and holidays of this particular country. And try to get out of your “comforting cocoon” and explore the surrounding area!
2. Keeping Close Ties
Staying in touch with parents, friends, and relatives is of great importance when it comes to international relocations. This will not only help you to soothe your mind and feel connected but also will be a significant motivating factor to move forward. Take time out of your day, and call your friend to have a simple chit-chat about trivial things, share experience about your current faring in a new place. Spice up your conversation with your inner jokes. This will give you a much-needed sense of security, interconnectedness, and will greatly reduce anxiety.
Taking an edge off playing sports is not only an excellent opportunity to limber up but also is quite beneficial in constructing meaningful relationships with new people. Sports are a tremendous unifier and catalyst for friendly interactions. It nurtures not only physical but also mental constitution that is unbelievably mandatory in realigning the course of life. So, don’t shy away from sports groups around your campus or random sports events here and there. Seize this opportunity to both improve your well-being and establish new connections.
These are the basics that will help you to stave off the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and loneliness. The first days of the adaptation period will inevitably have rough edges. But don’t let this fleeting experience ruin your overall impression. It will get better, and you will feel the surge of positivity gradually, step by step, engulfing and taking over the bitterness of acclimatization.
You are not the first, and you won’t be the last to experience this rather universal feeling. So, keep your chin up, and you won’t notice how quickly you will see yourself getting more and more accustomed to the new ways of living. Look for more joyful experiences, exciting connections, and implement our tips to ease your relocation-induced stress in no time.