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wellbeing 5 Min Read

I don't get stressed, but I attended a stress webinar. Here's why.

By Kiris 29 Jul 2019
Image of Kiris holding coffee cup and looking at phone.

There I was, 11am Monday morning, scrolling through my Instagram feed on the walk back to my office with a latte, when I saw USQ promoting the Beyond the Books Webinar Series on the topic of ‘Success through stress’. My first thought was, ‘here we go, an hour listening to someone proclaiming how not to be stressed, to set goals, or to become more aware of stressors. You know, the kind of things that you tend to listen to but never give much thought to again and definitely don’t bother applying to your own life. As someone who doesn’t usually get stressed, I was reluctant to listen to this webinar in the first place. But, as someone who is always striving for success, the idea that you could find it through stress intrigued me.

So, I did something I wouldn’t usually do … and registered. 

Straight away, I was really impressed with the presenters: Dr Yong Goh, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, with over 15 years of experience, and Cara Bricknell, who has worked as a psychologist in private practice for 12 years in the Toowoomba and surrounding rural regions. Both Yong and Cara shared insight into how success can be found in stress, which was something I had never heard of before, and was interested to learn more about. They didn’t focus purely on the meaning of stress and its negative effects, but offered actionable strategies that could be easily implemented during times of stress, should I need them. 

Three things I learnt about included:

1. The PHE Factor

The PHE Factor refers to perception, health and the environment

Perception – Think outside the box and see things from different angles.  

I’m currently studying a part-time postgraduate graphic design course while also working full-time, and could see the importance of implementing this strategy. I’ve been consciously applying a different perspective when completing assignments because studying graphic design means it’s imperative to think ‘outside the box’, so flexing the brain muscles and thinking, ‘how would I design this if I was starting from scratch’ has made each task a lot easier. 

Health – Keeping fit and healthy so that the body can handle the effects of stress better. 

Yong’s description of being healthy wasn’t just about drinking more water and hitting the gym more than once a week, either. Instead, it encouraged me to put more effort into the health of my body, which in turn, has positively influenced the environment around me. I personally have proven time and time again that getting out of bed more than one to two hours before starting work to cook a healthy breakfast, get organised for the day, catch-up on emails and, if possible do some uni before work, has helped me to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. 

Environment - Being in a safe and supportive environment, which helps you to think, feel and respond effectively towards stressful encounters.

When Yong referred to the benefits of being in a positive and productive environment, it made me more grateful for the support that I have, surrounded by those who want the best for me and encourage me to do well.

2. Some stress can be beneficial

Stress contributes to our internal motivation, minimises procrastination and helps us to get things done. 
I don’t like to get stressed, as I mentioned earlier. Yet, since learning from Cara that low stress levels can be beneficial, I’ve tried to let these levels peak to help me accomplish tasks and improve my overall performance. For example, when completing a recent assignment, I was required to design some digital display banners, which I finished in advance. However, I continued to brainstorm other designs, which encouraged me to try harder to improve my designs, despite my assignment already being finished. This experience caused my stress levels to peak which helped me work harder to provide something better, in a shorter period of time. It is experiences like this that convince me it is good to let your stress levels peak a little.  

Flatlay of Kiris' desk space.

3. Time management

If you’ve read any of my previous Social Hub blogs, you’ll know that I’m a big advocate for organisation and time management, so when Cara brought up the topic of managing time (cue 41:48 minutes), I was a fish in the ocean eating bait … hooked! I will campaign any day that managing your time effectively makes life 100 times easier, which is why I appreciated Cara alluding to the importance of having a clear and organised desk space, so that you know where everything is. One of the most important things to include in your study space, I learned, is a wall calendar that outlines key deadlines and due dates, as well as upcoming events that aren’t associated with study (things you can look forward to). This is something I have been doing for many years now, so having Cara reinforce its importance was encouraging. 

While I’m not someone who identifies as suffering from stress often, it was good to hear about how stress is formed and learn some new strategies to counteract it and even use it to my advantage. The Q&A at the end of the webinar also provided more clarity on how long-term, ongoing stress can ultimately affect your mental health, which was an important reminder of why it’s important to recognise the signs of stress and to seek support when in need of some help to cope. 

As I reflect on what I was able to take away from that webinar, I’m glad I registered and attended it, because I have now heard these strategies AND successfully put them into action, all thanks to that 11am scroll through Instagram.

If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to listen to this webinar, and register for the upcoming Beyond the Books Online Series. Believe me, there’s something there for everyone, even if you don’t think there is at first! 

Gif of lady on phone with coffee.
Image of Kiris.
University of Southern Queensland. (2019). Beyond the Books Webinar Series 2019. Retrieved 30 May, 2019, from https://www.usq.edu.au/webinars
Usqedu. (2019). Beyond the Books: Success through stress. Retrieved June 6, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU6b5z3OK8s&t=136s
Beyond the Books Webinar Series. (2019). Success through stress: Why using stress to your advantage can have positive benefits 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019, from https://www.usq.edu.au/webinars/stress-advantage-positive-benefits