MUSA Welfare: Let’s Manage Our Stress!

I feel a little guilty saying this, arts student and all, but I have been stressed.

Hear me out. While I don’t have finals to worry about, that means the pressure is on for my assignments! And I don’t manage time–or stress very well.

Thankfully, I knew where to find just the thing I needed…

Introducing Let’s Manage Our Stress!, a mental health campaign organised by our favourite and only MUSA welfare department.

It was great, mainly because it was completely free, I got some pretty sick art to keep, AND there were free refreshments. 

I love free stuff!

On Monday, the campaign started off with fun de-stressing activities in the form of art therapy. There were tables set up where students could show off their art skills–or lack thereof, free of judgement. Personally, I was drawn to sand art immediately, but managed to pick up a piece of scratch art to take home to really maximise the relaxation levels. I loved sand art as a child, as I’m sure many other people might have, so these activities really, really did send me into a pretty giddy state.

It’s a shame it was only from 11am to 3pm, though. I can only hope it worked magic for other stressed out students–judging from the happy grins and general lighthearted mood at the tables, I think it was fine! I got home and doodled for the first time in a while, feeling ever-so-slightly calmer.

Therapy in general’s open to everyone, even if you think you’re “fine”–you don’t need something to be inherently “wrong” or off to simply express your feelings and emotions in a healthy manner.

So, to conclude: art therapy’s great and fun–and has a whole ton of benefits, as described on @musa.cares on Instagram. (Subtle plug, right?) 

And if you’ve been keeping up with @musa.cares, you might have seen a post about a mental health talk titled following a few days after Art Therapy Day, given by Ms Cheryl Kong, a Monash counsellor. To be completely honest, the promise of pizza lured me into the talk, and I’m really glad I went.

4 Stress management comes down to:

  1. Identifying your stressors.

Sometimes it’s obvious, and maybe you want to strangle me. But it’s true! Taking a moment to sit down, writing or typing out your thoughts help–whether it’s to a friend, your diary, or just a piece of scrap paper. Figuring out a problem often means you have to get to the root of it, and with stress, sometimes you might just feel bad and not know why.

You might not even be aware that you’re overstressed, pushing you into unproductivity and towards a breakdown. So if anything feels off, take the time to figure out what’s making you feel that way, and why.

  1. Create a To-Do List

A to-do list can help you get organised–very important–but can also stress you out more. When you make it, just keep it specific and intentional, and most importantly, realistic. It’s for you to actually accomplish, so keeping it at 5 items a day max is a good idea. Don’t overload yourself; revisit and revise the list whenever you need to, so long as you keep yourself focused on tasks and aware of your limits.

  1. Multitasking

Don’t do that.

  1. Cognitive restructuring, self affirmation

The idea here is to talk positively to yourself! I know, corny, cheesy…but effective. Keep things in perspective, avoid negative self talk: I can do it, I can finish it. Things as such. An example would be:

“I’m not going to be able to finish this assignment on time, I suck, I’m going to FAIL this unit..” 

That’s obviously going to make you feel a whole lot worse.

“I still have a day to finish this assignment–even if I hand it in late, I can do better on the other ones. I just need to do my best for now.”

That’s an example of positive thinking, even without ignoring the clearly negative parts of your situation. While it may be hard to do (I struggle greatly with not shit-talking myself and GG go next is the best I can manage) it’s really going to help you actually get work done when you don’t feel like absolute crap.

  1. Practising mindfulness

Sorry I ripped this off Google: mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgement.

Meditation is a scary word to me, cause’ I always fall asleep, or get antsy. Can’t do it. But the way it was explained in the talk, it seems simply to be stepping away and allowing yourself to breathe and go over how you feel. Which is a lot less scary, a lot more doable.

I won’t get into it, but something we did was Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), and it’s cool. You can look it up on Youtube, try it out, chill a little.

  1. Self Care Isn’t Selfish

Do I really have to explain this? Take care of yourself, damn! Be active, create space for yourself. Do what you enjoy, do what de-stresses you–anything healthy, that is. Obviously.

That was about it for the talk–we got some infographics, learned a bunch, got to QnA a little with Ms Cheryl. Then we gorged ourselves on pizza—awesome, huge slices—as 2 of 3 winners (my idiot friends) celebrated winning RM30 Grab vouchers incredibly obnoxiously. I am positive the third winner was a very sweet person. I managed to get in a short chat with Ms Cheryl after the talk, too (it’s a little paraphrased):

C: I enjoyed the size of the group–it’s not too huge, it’s not too small–and I think it’s good that some of you actually interacted with me. I’ve gotta be truthful, over here, but there’s a lot of times when you throw questions and it’s quiet, and I appreciate that some of you actually share. In a workshop, some of these comments and perspectives are actually open to interpretation, so I actually enjoyed the feedback and the answers that were shared.

C: So it was a very pleasant workshop that I’ve conducted, and people gave me a thumbs up or verbal confirmation; and there were good questions. It’s a good brainstorming session that we had over here, where I don’t just give you guys the answers; and we talked about what you think, what you feel.

(Back to me, writer over here.)

So if you went, and participated, thanks! Ms Cheryl appreciates it, and I really appreciate it too. The vibes were great. 

She did not tell me to put this in (cross my heart) but if you need someone to talk to, if you want to sit in an air conditioned room and mess with colouring books, if you feel sick and need a place to rest for a moment–head to the Counselling, Health and Wellness Centre! 

I’ve done…all of those.

Located at Building 3 Level 1, it’s right next to Lepak Place. If you do choose to register for counselling sessions (by clicking here), that’s where you’ll be headed for face-to-face sessions. Me and some friends have went–while it might not be for everyone, there’s no harm in giving it a shot.

If you’re facing some intense distress and you need help now, you can call or text these numbers:

(Tel) +6015 4877 0403 or (Whatsapp) +6013 880 1748.

And that’s a wrap, folks! Thank you for reading, and do consider attending a MUSA Welfare event ;)

Written by Erika; Photos by Shawn & Tarek

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