How to manage stress

University can be a really stressful time, for many it’s the first time away from home, in a new city, with completely new people and on top of this you’re given deadlines left right and centre. It is normal to feel stressed and out of your comfort zone. But there are a few tips we can give you to help with your stress and have a truly wonderful time at university.

In order to battle stress we must first understand how stress can be caused –

  • the feeling of loneliness, being away from home or testing relationships
  • managing money or dealing with debt
  • finding a job to support your university journey
  • managing work and studies and social
  • revising for exams
  • getting started with writing essays or any form of coursework
  • the use and pressure of drinking and drugs

When we are feeling stressed, we react to this in a number of ways. Firstly through our behaviour. This is usually avoiding the situation and turning your attention to other things, like alcohol or drugs.

Secondly this can be experienced physically through increased hear rate, sweating, shaking, headaches ect

Thirdly, this can be psychological through fear, panic and the constant feeling that something bad is going to happen.

Now, stress is a normal part of life and people feel it everyday. However when this starts to exceed our ability to cope then we must find ways to manage this and everyone will find different techniques to work better for them.

Firstly you must first accept that you need help and seek help through the numerous channels on offer, for example the NHS have loads of guides and help for anyone trying to cope with stress.

Here are a few strategies you can try if stress is starting to effect your mental health.

1. Exercise

Exercise has been proven to help with mental health by giving your mind a new focus. This doesn’t have to be long hours in the gym. This can be simply going for a brisk walk or a run.

‘Exercise can be hugely beneficial for the mind as well as the body,’ says Glyn Williams, senior wellbeing practitioner at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. ‘Regular exercise releases endorphins – feel-good hormones that can help to reduce tension and allow the mind to focus on something other than worries and concerns.’

There are always clubs, groups and societies you could join in your local area if your struggling to motivate yourself to get started. This can include an array of sports and also gives you an opportunity to meet new people.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness originated in buddhism and has been adopted by clinicians to improve stress and anxiety. The techniques involve deep breathing and hided meditation.

The best way to adopt and learn this is through a number of available apps. The apps we recommend which are also free is calm and headspace.

‘When we are stressed our minds sometimes behave in ways that hinder rather than help. Rather than ruminating over the problem, catastrophising about the future or critically analysing your latest attempts, take time out to focus your mind on something relaxing and positive,’ explains Charlotte.

3. Talk to someone

Feeling alone can be a dramatic effect on your happiness and you’d be surprised how many people starting out at uni feel lonely. Even the people you would least expect suffer from loneliness, stress and anxiety.

When your feeling these things speak to friends and family, or you can even seek professional help. Studies have revealed socialising with friends just once a week can reduce stress levels and improve overall mental health. If your looking to meet new people then joining societies is a great way to do this.

Get into a routine of sleeping and waking at the same time every day. Having a routine has proven to help with mental health.

4. Manage your time

A trigger of stress can be you feeling like your running out of time to do something you’ve had on your to do, or you’ve been meaning to do for a while. Simple time management techniques can help to rectify this and keep you focused.

A great way to manage time is to create a break down of tasks and plan accordingly. Prioritise your work into things that are urgent and not so urgent.

5. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep can help towards mental health and managing stress. The recommended number of hours is 8 full hours a night but this can differ per person. Do what is best for you.

Not only is it important to get enough sleep, you should also have down time / relaxation time before you sleep as this helps the quality of your sleep. Setting a routine of what you go to bed and wake up is important.

There are a number of ways you can relax before bed, including:

  • taking a bath
  • watch something light on TV
  • read
  • meditate
  • If you sleep in the same room as you study then make sure to cover all aspects that remind you or could stress you out
  • Avoid laptops, phones and tablets before going to sleep

If these techniques don’t help you to cope with stress then visit your local GP who will be able to assess if the symptoms your feeling are in fact stress and not another issue.

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