Students – Managing stress

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Tags: Manage , stress , Student ,

There comes a time in every student’s life where education can be quite challenging, whether its meeting deadlines, being away from home, forming new relationships, revising for exams, writing dissertations / essays and reports

( I’m sure you can add more to the list).
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These can all be factors that contribute to student stress. According to Jemma Smith editor of Prospects for Students, stress can affect you in three types of ways:

Psychological– stress can often make you feel as if something awful will happen. This can be ongoing for days or even months.

Physical– some individuals could suffer a panic attack at its highest level or part of the symptoms like fast heart beat, sweating, difficult to breathe/over breathing, shaking and migraines. Moreover a development in body twitches or phantom smells are also common.

Behavioural– Being stressed will probably push you into wanting some sort of escape/release from your current situation which could lead to erratic behaviour or even substance abuse.

In order to manage stress here are a few ways that can be incorporated within your daily life to just ease the tension.

 

Build a schedule

It doesn’t matter how or where you type/write this schedule as long as it there for you to look back on. Make a list of the things that you need to complete and prioritise them according to their importance. Then set a time, day and location to accomplish the task. Remember to be realistic and not so harsh on yourself, that will just increase the stress and disappointment if you are not able to reach your goal. For example, set aside time for a break even if it is 30 minutes or even if you need to make a quick errand in that time, go ahead! Planning will help iron out the creases! Another example would be if you’ve lost track of time and need to submit an essay within a week, then it’s time to plan where you can get help from or maybe a simple negotiation with your lecturer for an extension could solve the problem and ease the stress.
One thing that helped me whilst writing a dissertation was the thought of finishing it and being able to do whatever I wanted after submitting. You could say I planned my freedom afterwards. I gave myself an incentive to work for, such as a small break away from home. This motivated me to push forward and get on with it. Time management is key but also remember take it one day at a time and not think about the ‘what if’s’ or ‘I could have’, stay in the present moment.

 

Speak your mind

When our brain is constantly wired and focused on the possible outcomes of what may happen if we do or don’t complete certain tasks, we find ourselves falling into isolation and believe that no one else is here to listen or feels the same way. Remember there is always someone going through something even if it’s not the same thing as you, so communicate with someone. They’ll probably appreciate it more just to hear your voice. So speak to family and friends, they know you best and can make possible suggestions on how to help you. If you’re feeling even more spontaneous then why not try and make a new friend? This is more cost effective than paying for a professional to listen. However there are mental health communities out there that can help for free with counselling with a self-referral. Institutions also have a well being supervisor who can listen to all your worries and problems without judgement and advise on the next steps, so you don’t feel stuck.
Take up a new activity
One of the common ways to distress is to burn calories! Yes sign up for a new hobby whether its exercise, dance, basketball etc. This will help release endorphins, a hormone that is produced when we feel happy with something we’re doing. This helps the brain function at its best, giving you that urge to thrive in life and motivate you to progress, whilst you stop focusing on your problems. It doesn’t have to be a long session. A session as short as 15 minutes, could be just as good as therapy/talking to someone.

 

Meditation

This could be a new activity you sign up for also; I’ve put it in its own little paragraph because here, you’re not moving but more taking time out to stay still and serene. One of the techniques I was advised whilst at university was to meditate for 10 minutes, which at the time felt like a really long, boring 10 minutes taken away from me when I could have been doing something else. However that wasn’t the case at all. Just like running, you increase your minutes and pace day by day; so I started at 2 minutes. In that time I thought about things I’m thankful for and the happiest of memories I’ve made in my lifetime. Sometimes I’d just focus on the ocean waves. Choose what works for you. Meditating with a second person can also help unless you get the giggles! Guided meditation and breathing techniques have been around for many years and can significantly improve mental health and wellbeing by relaxing the mind. Over the years, mental well being has become one of the most focused health issues out there. The NHS dedicates an entire web page on how to do these techniques correctly. There are also many apps out there that can provide you with soothing stories or sound that can help your focus such as Calm and Headspace. Audio books and podcasts are also a gem that could help you zone out!

 

Get a good night kip

In moments of ongoing stress and over thinking sleep deprivation can happen because we can’t seem to let things go or put things to the side so we end up not switching off. I would suggest turning off the laptop and putting it away as well as any phone devices, Ipads and tablets, to give your eyes a rest and set them up for bed, ideally one hour before. Set a time to go to bed and to wake up. Be consistent, so you can get into a reoccurring pattern. The recommended hours for sleep is 7 to 8 hours. The idea here is to wind down, shower and a hot beverage usually does it for me!

 

Overall stress is a common mental health issue that will arise at some point in our lives regardless of the environment, but just know you are not alone and there is help out there. If you’re reading this thinking “I’ve tried everything!” then speak to your GP and seek professional advice to make sure there are no other underlying issues/contributing factors to your stress.

 

 


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