student life

5 ways to stay on top of university stress

Written by Claudia Cole

For many students, the final few months that concludes the current academic year may include a bundle of stress. Whether you’ve got several assignments due or back-to-back exams, it’s all understandable. It may seem like the stress is endless. How you cope with the stress, however, can have serious effects on your health.

A survey found that 87% of students experience stress. While that may seem alarming, let’s not forget that stress is how the body naturally responds to external pressures that are regarded as difficult or troublesome. It’s key for survival, helping us to perform more effectively in tough situations. However, when stress begins to have the opposite effect, it becomes a problem.

Here are some self-help suggestions that may help ease the pressure.

Manage your time
One of the well-known reasons that can cause stress is poor time management. The evenings are getting longer, and the air is growing warmer, which means deadlines are well on their way. You may be feeling as though you are running out of time. However, simple time management techniques such as creating a work schedule can help you remain focused.

Organising a work schedule and sticking with it is essential for prioritizing tasks. By dividing your work into small manageable chunks, your workload will appear to be less daunting and you won’t find yourself overwhelmed. It’s important not to delay your assignments until the last minute. Try tackling the smallest tasks first, leaving you more time to dedicate to the challenging ones.

A great way to remain motivated is to reward yourself for each task. Perhaps you could spend the evening out with your mates or watching a movie with some freshly ordered Domino’s pizza. Yum!

Regular exercise
Don’t be put off by the sound of it. You don’t have to rush off to sign up for a gym membership. There are simple free exercises to increase your heart rate, such as walking. It may be worth getting off the bus a few stops before your destination or taking a short walk around your neighbourhood.

Physical activity is not only beneficial for the body, but it’s also great for your mental health and wellbeing. Exercise is an effective stress reliever and has shown to have positive impacts on our moods.

It has been recommended that a person should take part in 150 minutes of physical activity a week. There’s a variety of ways you can incorporate this into your routine that won’t interfere with your studies. This may include attending a sports class at your uni or everyday things, such as walking to your local supermarket.

Adequate sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and wellbeing, so it’s essential that we make a good night’s rest a priority. Like our electronics, our bodies need time to charge. That way, we have more energy and we’re more likely to have a productive day.

Some simple, yet effective ways to improve our quality of sleep include:
• Develop a relaxing evening routine.
• Reducing your intake of caffeine.
• Turning off all electronics before bed.
• Investing in cosy bedding.

An additional tip is to try studying outside your bedroom. This will help keep your mind off your current workload at night, so it might be worth visiting your local library during the day to get some work done.

Take regular breaks
Juggling a full-time course is difficult, but no matter how hectic your study schedule may seem, there is always time to take a short break. Just because you’ve yet to complete all your assignments, it doesn’t mean you aren’t deserving of some free time. You’ve worked hard after all.

Staring at a laptop screen or your study notes for hours can be draining and can affect your concentration. Taking regular breaks allows you to refresh your mind. That way, you’ll be left feeling revitalised, ready to crush that to-do list.

Reaching out to someone
It’s important that you don’t go through this challenging time alone. Isolation can have a negative impact on your overall happiness. The first step to improve your wellbeing is to accept that you may need some help and guidance.
Talking to a friend or family member can improve your mood and reduce your stress levels. You may also be able to gain some valuable advice that can support you throughout the remainder of your studies.

Alternatively, it’s worth seeking professional help, especially if you’re struggling to cope with your current workload. If you’re suffering from significant levels of stress, contact your university’s counselling and mental health service or your local GP. They will have a team of specialist that can offer support. For more guidance, check out the NHS website.