Dealing with student stress

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Health Assured team

01 April 2022

Sometimes as a student, it can feel like you're in at the deep end. Away from home, deadlines looming, and exams on the horizon. There are certain unique challenges that university and student life bring. So it’s hardly surprising that times students find themselves struggling to cope. 

April is Stress Awareness Month, so we're sharing tips for managing some of the stresses that student life can bring. From housemate troubles to money concerns and missing home—these situations can all cause stress to build. 

Stress and mental health have a strong link. When stress levels increase, mental health can take a knock too. Extended periods of stress can also lead to burnout, a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. 

That’s why it’s essential to learn helpful coping mechanisms and ways of dealing with the inevitable stresses of life. Below you’ll find some top tips for dealing with student stressors you might be facing in your life. 

What is stress?

Stress is the body's response to a harmful life event or threatening situation, regardless of whether the threat is genuine or not.

Stress can affect people in a variety of different ways. What may be perceived as a stressful situation by one person may be of little concern to another—and some individuals are better able to handle stress than others.

Not all stress is bad. In some cases, small amounts of stress can help you accomplish tasks. For example, feeling "butterflies" in your stomach before a job interview or an important exam. These types of positive stressors are short-lived, and your body’s way of helping you get through what could be a tough situation.

Our bodies can handle small amounts of stress. But, we aren't equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without consequences.

Signs of stress

Some of the common symptoms of stress to watch out for can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical, and behavioural. The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate slowly. These include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Stomach issues 
  • Raised heart rate 
  • Concentration problems 
  • Feeling irritable and snappy 
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Difficulties making decisions 
  • Avoiding places and people 

How to deal with student stress

It's important to find a healthy coping mechanism that works for you that you can fall back on in times of stress. The below stress busters a free, easy to use and accessible to you. 

Spend time in nature

The great outdoors can boost mental health in many positive ways. It raises vitamin D levels, reduces anxiety and provides social interactions. All of which contribute to a reduction in stress. Even a quick ten minutes can improve your day in a whole new way. Next time your feeling stressed, squeeze in some fresh air and see how it makes you feel. 

Talk to a friend

When emotions bubble up inside, they can feel daunting and hard to handle. Talking to a friend you trust can be a great way to relieve tension, laugh it off and break a cycle of negative emotion. When deadlines are looming, a trip to the park, a bike ride or a lunch date might seem counterproductive, but a short break could in fact be the cure. 

Write it down

Stressful times can feel frustrating and confusing, particularly if you suffer from a mental health problem. One thing that can help to shift the energy from inside your body is writing it down. You don’t have to be a writer. It could be a bullet point list or even a page of pictures. But the physical act of putting pen to paper can foster feelings of freedom from your emotions.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if needed 

When everything feels like it's all come at once and you’re struggling to cope with the weight of things, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Most schools, colleges and universities have student support systems in place. So make sure you ask the question and see what’s available. It can be scary to reach out for help, but everyone goes through hard times at some point—so remember not to be hard on yourself. 

 

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