Your time at University should be the best years of your life. Making new friends, parties and fun nights out make going to University an unforgettable experience, but the academic demands can also make it stressful. In this article we will look at how to cope with stress at university, including a look at symptoms, ways of avoiding stress and how to get support.
Symptoms Of Stress Stress can affect people in different ways so the symptoms can be varied and wide ranging but may include feeling anxious, restless and irritable. This can often lead to sufferers losing their appetite, feeling depressed, or experiencing patchy sleep patterns.
One of the main causes of stress amongst students is of course academic workload, whether that’s impending coursework deadlines or the pressure of exam revision. That said it is not always the academic rigours of university that affect students, homesickness can be a major cause of stress for many students when they first move away to university and the breakdown of personal relationships or arguments with housemates can also lead to stress and anxiety.
This article will focus on study-related stress, looking at how it can be avoided, how you can relieve stress and how to get support if required.
How To Avoid Stress
It may sound like a cliché, but the best way to avoid stress is to plan out your work before your coursework deadlines and exams. In most cases, students underestimate the amount of work that they need to do to complete their assignments. Then take it easy until a couple of days before it’s due to be handed in.
Some students believe that they work better under stress. It may be that their mind responds to challenges better when they are under pressure. However, sometimes that can be an excuse to leave your work until the last moment. By avoiding putting yourself in such a situation, you will decrease the amount of stress and pressure you face. This can prevent any negative impacts on your physical or mental health.
When placed in a stressful situation many students panic, cry or give up. A tense state of mind will affect the quality of the work you produce and this will be reflected in your grades.
How To Relieve Stress
When you start feeling stressed it’s often a good idea to do something to release any pent up physical energy. Sport is often a fantastic way to relieve stress. So why not have a kick around with friends, go for a run or head to the pool for a swim. For some people a short gym session can also help.
Yoga, aerobics and dance are also good ways of releasing stress, letting your mind relax whilst using your energy elsewhere. Going for a walk or listening to music can also help you to relax whilst having a therapeutic effect.
Being on your own when you are feeling stressed can often make you feel worse. So why not take a break and share your feelings with a close friend, remember it’s good to talk! Why not watch a light hearted comedy together? Having a good laugh at some cheap gags might be just the tonic you need.
It’s easy to forget that our mood is often related to what we eat and drink. So a healthy balanced diet is crucial to keeping both our body and our mind healthy. As well as reducing the likelihood of illness and weakness, eating well has the double benefit of reducing your levels of stress-inducing chemicals and improving the way you look, which can certainly lift your mood too.
What Not to Do
Research suggests that food and drinks intended to give you a short boost, such as chocolate and coffee, actually cause a long-term ‘low’ and should be avoided. Moreover, salty foods, such as crisps, dehydrate the body and the brain, causing fatigue.
Meals high in fat raise stress hormone levels and keep them high. In stressful situations, you may want to smoke or drink alcohol to relax or take tablets such as Pro Plus to stay awake. However, excessive amounts of any of these will not help you to cope with your stress and could make you ill.
If you have a coursework deadline to meet and there is a lot of work to be done, working in a group may help. With exam revision, if you work in a group, you won’t feel as though you’re alone.
Believe it or not, others are in the same position as you. Also, don’t expect to complete impossible amounts of work in a single day. To circumvent this, set yourself a realistic target which you know you can achieve. That way you will feel less stressed, get more work done and have time to relax and unwind afterwards. If you need help, ask your friends to go through topics with you or parts which you do not understand.
Although it may be difficult, try to stay calm and composed. It goes without saying that it’s much easier to prevent stress than to cure it.
Planning out tasks and setting deadlines is always a useful technique. Don’t forget, once the exams are over and the coursework is handed in, you can forget all about it and enjoy yourself!