How to support students in managing stress.
Feeling stress is a natural part of life, it can promote motivation, the ability to take action, and stimulate excitement. However, if you are caught up in an overwhelming amount of stress it can leave you feeling, depleted, exhausted, and burnt out. According to the Mental Health Association, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
What is stress?
Stress is a state of anxiety or worry that is caused by challenging circumstances. Stress is the body’s response to take action which releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Symptoms can have emotional, mental, and physical effects on the body such as weight gain, headaches, and hair loss.
What is International Stress Awareness
What is International Stress Awareness Week? International Stress Awareness Week aims to highlight the dangers of too much stress and focuses on relinquishing the stigma against stress and mental health. Commencing on the 1st of November to the 7th of November 2023, this week will draw attention to how universities can support students in managing stress and the importance of maintaining low levels of stress.
It is key to manage stress and safeguard students from a moral, financial, and legal perspective. A lack of stress management and support in universities can lead to student sickness, encouragement of poor mental well-being as well as other things that may negatively impact students.
Here are 5 ways you can support your educational institution:
1. Learn to recognise the symptoms of stress
Universities need the tools to be able to recognise symptoms of stress amongst students to fight stress overload. One of the most beneficial ways is by being vigilant, recognising and identifying the signs and symptoms of stress. It is always better to catch the signs as early as possible, so students have the time and space to process their feelings in an organized, open, and honest way.
2. Some signs of stress are:
- Increased sickness absence
- High dropout rates
- Reduced focus and concentration
- Gaining or losing weight
- Smoke and drink alcohol more
3. Lead by example and show you care
Highlighting your awareness of stress consequences in the organisation will allow students to feel confident when exploring their stress and feel as though they are not alone. Openly utilising tactics to maintain your own stressful situations will promote healthy ideas for managing stress for your organisation.
Showing that you are authentic and understanding of stress pressures provides students with the confidence to talk about it within the organisation. This, in turn, will uphold a positive and open work culture when discussing managing stress.
4. Manage workloads and deadlines
Having overreaching deadlines and heavy workloads can be harmful to student stress levels. Make sure that all tasks have the correct and fair amount of time for a student to complete without feeling overwhelmed. Make sure the right person is given the accurate work and that they have the right tools for the job. Ensure clear priorities with workloads and discuss which tasks are more important than others.
5. Assistance Programme
Providing well-being assistance for students is crucial for overall mental wellbeing. Having somewhere to go to talk about their studies and personal issues in a healthy and organised way is much more effective than allowing these issues to fester and overwhelm students.
Having an Assistance Program is a really good way of supporting your students. Assistance Programmes allow students to chat confidentially with counsellors to combat stress issues (or any problems). Health Assured’s service has a 24-hour, 365-day counselling helpline, workshops, and a handy live chat for your students to feel supported whenever and wherever.
- Create breakout spaces
Having designated quiet areas for students to take wellness breaks or a place to go if they are starting to feel overwhelmed with stress can be a sure way of helping students manage their everyday stresses. Breakout spaces do not have to be massive; just as long as they are private and relatively quiet. Breakout spaces will provide students with the space and time to work through the immediate pressures of work.