There’s only slightly more than a week left till the end of the semester.

That means that there’s only slightly more than a week left to rush the thousands (exaggeration or nah?) of assignments that have been scheduled on Week 12, after which the hustling doesn’t stop as we dive straight into SWOTVAC and then finals.

*oh god*

Is it just me that’s out of breath or is it because that whole paragraph is one sentence?


This last week and a half of the semester is arguably one of the most stressful times in the sem, as unlike the first 7 weeks, your workload is now paired with the sudden realization that you don’t really know jack about your units, and that you basically have one week to brush up on 4 units before you sit for an exam that will determine if you need to shell out another RM5,000++ to study the same thing and do the same assignments ALL. OVER. AGAIN ASDFGHJKLNWOQINFEF;LERTJ EOTWN;L N90943AEFDFKJN!!!!

Seriously guys, I don’t think there’s enough oxygen going around.


During this time, most people will, understandably, be only slightly extremely stressed out, some more than others. We all know people in our life whose stress is easily triggered. People who walk around with a perpetual frown on their face and are always busy with one thing or another.

In my life, this person is me.

Now I have, to a certain extent, managed to come to terms with this and have found ways of managing this stress. Sometimes I take this stress and direct it into more positive avenues, like using it to propel me forward to get more work done, and sometimes I simply cope by eating all the cookies in the house. Regardless of which end of the spectrum my coping mechanism choses to focus on, below is a list things you should never, ever do or say to anyone who is visibly stressed out, lest you fancy a chair in your face.

#1 Just relax.

Oh thanks, why didn’t I think of that?

Most of the time, telling someone who is visibly stressed out to ‘just chill’ will end in one of two ways. They will either lash out at you, or insist that they ‘weren’t stressed out to begin with what is the problem with you, YOU chill out’. Either way, telling someone to relax almost always has the opposite effect, and is one of the most annoying and non-committal answers you can give someone and really does not validate how they are feeling. It’s an obvious blanket statement — it shows that you really don’t care what they’re going through, and that you think they need to just get over it ASAP. No one can relax on command. If they could, they would have by now.

#2 I’m sure it’s not that bad.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this one a few times, and it’s all I can do to not get up and leave the room. By saying that you’re ‘sure it’s not that bad’, you are discrediting what the person is going through and also effectively suggesting that the person is either exaggerating or trying to get attention. You can’t possibly say to someone you’re sure what they are dealing with is not ‘that bad’ because you’re not the one dealing with it. We all process and cope with tough situations in different ways. What is hard for one person to deal with may not be so for another but this does not by any means mean that their worry is invalid.

#3 Try not to think about it.

I clearly can’t. That’s why I’m stressed.

Again, you can’t turn off stress as surely as you can’t turn off thinking (I might have met a few people in my time that challenge this last statement though). When stressed, simply pausing and erasing the thought from the mind is impossible so don’t even bother suggesting this. It’s absolutely useless and will just make the stressed out person feel small. It puts the blame on the person because you’re basically saying ‘Hey, you wouldn’t be so stressed if you didn’t think about it, so stop stressing yourself out,’

#4 Just breathe.

How about YOU just breathe? Under water.

While this is actually pretty good advice as taking the time to breathe forces your mind to take a step back from the stress, it’s not always the most helpful thing to suggest when someone is wigging out. When someone is stressed, it’s not easy to turn the stress off. They are in the midst of expressing their frustration and may actually need to wig out more than to ‘just breathe’ and keep all the frustration in. For some people who get particularly anxious and have trouble breathing when stressed, telling them to ‘just breathe’ when they can’t very well do it at the moment is not helpful at all. Instead, feel the room and suggest breathing when he or she has calmed down a bit more.

#5 There are people who have bigger problems.

Pointing out how small someone’s worries are compared to other people’s just invalidates their stress and makes them feel unimportant. When a person is stressed out, they also likely feel inadequate already as they know they aren’t coping well with something. This statement will just drive home the belief that they aren’t behaving or coping as they should, and that they really are horrible people for not thinking of the plight of others. The reality is that we all know how fortunate we are, but the fact of the matter is that in that moment our problems will seem the largest, and we need to cope with that. Knowing that others are worse off won’t help, just like how knowing that another group hasn’t started their assignment won’t help us feel better about the fact that our own assignment has been done incorrectly.

In the end, if you really want to help someone who’s stressed out, just offer your support. Let them know you’re always ready to listen, and if they’re up for it, see if you can help them identify and eradicate the root of their stress. Lord knows we’ll be needing a lot of support from each other during these 2-3 weeks before we’re back in that exam hall, desperately drawing up imaginary contracts with God (or gods, for the truly desperate) that will hopefully get us through the next few weeks.

Here’s a smiley pupper for luck:


Article by Larissa Liau

Pictures from Giphy 

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