5 tips to cope with student stress

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Health Assured team

02 August 2022

In the UK, 1-in-5 students have a diagnosed mental health problem.

Over the last decade, student mental health has become a widespread concern. During this time, UCAS has seen a 450% increase in applicants with mental health conditions. They estimate that over 70,000 students enter higher education with a mental health condition each year. These conditions often become exacerbated by the pressures and expectations of university and living away from home.

Students and mental health 

University can be a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be demanding. According to recent data, students are significantly more anxious than the general population. Countless deadlines, exams, making new friends and living away from home; are just a few of the pressures that can significantly impact student mental health. 

For many people, their first experience with mental illness occurs while at university. The pressures associated with university can be a lot to take on and can often leave students feeling stressed and anxious. As a student, you must find ways to manage these feelings – learning to cope can help you deal with similar problems later in life. 

Identifying the symptoms

There may not always be a clear sign that you’re suffering from a mental health problem. Due to the psychological nature of these conditions, it is often difficult to notice when someone is suffering. It is essential to learn and understand the symptoms associated with mental illness so that if these problems do arise, you can get the support you need. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms associated with mental health problems:

  • Extreme mood changes
  • Avoiding friends or social activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anger, irritability, and impatience
  • Illogical thinking and constant worrying
  • Depression and low mood
  • Ignoring personal hygiene

It’s important to realise that you are not alone in your struggles – many students are dealing with similar problems. The bravest thing you can do is reach out and get the necessary support before the problems worsen.

How to cope with student stress

Here at Health Assured, we’re always looking at ways to minimise stress and foster positive wellbeing. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 tips to help you feel calm and focused while completing your studies.

1. Keep in contact

Just because you’re moving away from home doesn’t mean you should lose contact with your friends and family. It is important to build new relationships, but it is equally important you don’t neglect your old relationships. Friends and family play a vital role in protecting your mental health – fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. Whenever you need to, call up your friends or message your family. They’ll appreciate it as much as you do.

2. Positive affirmation

Research shows that self-affirmation can lower stress and rumination. It is also beneficial for improving academic performance and overall health and wellbeing. Positive affirmation involves giving yourself constant encouragement – whether that be verbal reminders like saying something positive to yourself each morning or physical reminders such as leaving uplifting notes on your desk or in your notebooks. When combined, these positive affirmations will help cheer you up and alleviate any negative feelings.

3. Regular exercise

Research often highlights the link between a healthy body and a healthy mind. These studies have found that regular physical activity can help improve mental health – reducing stress and anxiety. So, whether, you go for a walk, join a gym, or play a sport, its time to get moving and reap the benefits of physical activity.

4. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the current moment. It involves relaxing, meditating, and concentrating on sounds or thoughts. Exercises can be as short as 60 seconds or as long as an hour. During this time, you can become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Being mindful can be beneficial for numerous mental health conditions – helping reduce stress and social anxiety. These practises allow you to take a step back, away from the stress and worries of student life – enabling you to understand why you feel the way you do.

5. Reach out for support

Dealing with stress can be overwhelming for any student. If you feel ready to do so, you should consider seeking treatment from a mental health professional. Therapists can help you recognise where negative feelings come from and help you implement strategies to get past them. They can also help you understand the commonality of conditions like stress. Remember, 20% of students are affected by mental health problems; many of your peers are likely dealing with similar problems and require similar support. Remember, you’re not alone.

Student mental health support from Health Assured

Want to find out more? Our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers a 24/7 counselling helpline that can support your health and wellbeing.


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