“For a large part, stress has to do with expectations,” says Jansen. A little bit of stress is good; it makes you more focused and improves your performance. If your expectations of yourself are too high, you experience more stress. “In perfectionists, it is so bad that their self-esteem depends almost entirely on realising their – often unrealistically high – objectives.” At the expense of everything, including their personal health, they push themselves to achieve their goals. In extreme cases, stress can lead to a burnout or even serious eating disorders such as anorexia; “7 per cent of the people suffering from anorexia dies as a result of this disease.”
The solution is obvious, but is easier said than done. Think differently: don't be too strict on yourself, concentrate on positive things, change your ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude, embrace your shortcomings and – very important – don't set your expectations too high. Jansen: “Returning to the idea that a six is good enough, which was prevalent when I was a student, could be a solution for the problems of stress among students today.”
Jansen finished her lecture with a short video by the Indian monk Gaur Gopal Das, who explains that worrying is unnecessary:
“Do you have a problem in life? No? Then why worry?
“Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? Yes? Then why worry?
“Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? No? Then why worry?”