If you’re feeling the tight grips of stress, you are not alone and though knowing that may not always help, seeking support and understanding from your equally stressed peers may be an advantage.
With 65% of students suffering with stress, 1 in 4 with mental health and 86% feeling overwhelmed, the pressure of the current academic climate is at an all-time high.
So, as a University student in the last month and therefore, last raging hells of my degree, here’s my top tips for how I manage stress:
I am going to dive in with the age-old exercise tip everyone rolls their eyes at each and every time they see it in another article. But… I only mention it first, because I would consider it the best.
I’m not forcing you to go to the gym and lift heavy weights, though as a strength trainer I can tell you now, nothing kills exam rage like it!
Just 30 minutes of exercise a week can improve your mood, the simplicity of a walk mid-day to break up study can work wonders. I you want to know exactly how much exercise you should be getting, check out the NHS recommendations. It’s so easy to get lost in your work; reading and re-reading sentences till eventually they merge together and your brain boards the next plane to a far, far away country.
Exercise can clear your head and enable you to power through another hour of study. Time is paramount to being a student. So don’t waste time staring blankly at a screen, get up and get out!
Every day I dedicate to studying, I will stop at 6pm no compromise. Time to wind-down, relax and see a friend is equally important to me as the time I spend with my work.
The more clear my mind set is outside of work, the more focused it is when I invest in my work. Make time for yourself and come back each time feeling refreshed. Don’t let stress layer up, minimise the layers as much as possible with some much needed me-time.
Sadness feeds itself so break the cycle and laugh. Yes, I am encouraging you to go forth and look at those funny animal videos (you can thank me later!) With laughter scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, funny cats have never had a better time than now.
There is a reason why such an important link exists between the research of animals and mental health; with dogs being encouraged more and more to visit hospitals and improve the happiness levels of patients. I know your dog is going to love me for encouraging you to spend more time with them, so go ahead.
Don’t have a dog? Then ask some of your friends if you could walk their dog. Pet owners always need extra help and why not get a walk in while you’re at it - two birds, one stone! Also check out www.borrowmydoggy.com – this has been a saviour to me in my spare time. I’ve been able to provide an elderly couple more time with their daughter while I get 1-1 time with a bouncy border collie, win win! (It’s also a great opportunity to show my Mum that I’m the closest thing to Dr Dolittle and therefore, that she should absolutely buy me that puppy for my upcoming birthday.)
Meditation and breathing
Yes, we breathe all the time, but when did you last take time to sit outside and concentrate on the depth and pace of your breath? Take your mind away from your work and think about how you’re breathing, something that you will never consider when your body is responding to stress. For me, I like to imagine myself breathing in positivity and letting it fill my lungs, then breathing out any negativity.
Don’t try to be perfect
You are human, you are not perfect and therefore, you are continually making mistakes and learning from them but also, not flawless at everything you approach. This is certainly my problem. By telling myself ‘anything lower than a 2:1 is a fail’ I immediately create mountains of unnecessary stress for myself. Aim to do your best, and then praise yourself for how hard you’ve worked.
Positivity, sounds hard to do when you’re in that closed and panicky mind-set but it can be done, the hardest part is encouraging yourself to do it in the first place. Coming from the most self-deprecating person ever, you’re doing great and it’s time to let yourself know that.
Be mindful of how hard you’re working and believe in the power of self-talk. I’m sure you understand the power negative thinking has over you so believe me when I say, positive thinking can be just as powerful! When you think I can’t, ask yourself, why can’t I?