University is an experience like no other. It brings new opportunities to develop, learn and have fun. But for many people, it can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety. You’re making big decisions, taking important exams and facing Your Future head on. So how do you cope? Here are our top tips to help you when stress strikes.
Change the way you see stress
Getting trapped in a cycle of stress can be hard to break. You’re stressed about something, then stressed that you’re getting so stressed… A key way to break this cycle is seeing the stress as a tool rather than a barrier. The chemicals and processes in our body that cause us to feel stressed out are actually there to help us meet challenges. You become more alert, more focused and more energised to meet the tasks at hand.
Give yourself a break
We all know the importance of a work-life balance in regulating our stress levels. This applies to studying too. Revision, in particular, can seem like an endless task – when have you done enough? But studies show that working for longer periods of time does not necessarily correlate with improved productivity. Research suggests that the prime amount of time to work during each day is 6 hours. So set yourself “working hours”, say 9am-4pm with an hour break for lunch. Work hard within those hours and then switch off for the day, guilt-free.
Exercise is a proven way to help decrease your stress levels. When you feel stressed and busy, your gym routine can be one of the first sacrifices to create more time. But working out releases feel-good endorphins to lift your mood and beat your feelings of stress. Not only that but exercising in the morning helps you focus and stay organised throughout the day. So get your sweat on and work on your feelings of anxiety.
Don’t compare yourself
Social media can be a blessing and a curse when you’re at uni. On the one hand, it’s a really easy way to keep in touch with everyone from home and get to know new people. However, it can also become an unrealistic way to measure our successes.
We all know that people mostly portray their “best self” on the internet. But sometimes it’s important to remind yourself of that when you start to think everyone else is having more fun and achieving more than you are. If necessary, limit or cut off your access if you are starting to feel anxious that you don’t measure up.
A knock on effect of comparing yourself to others is that it can seem a big thing to admit to anyone you are feeling stressed or anxious. You are not letting anyone down by seeking out help. A trusted friend, relative or a professional – sharing your issues can help you start to work through them and determine a course of action.
Lose a little control
A huge stress-inducing issue is trying to decide what to do in The Future. You may not enjoy your course as much as you’d hoped, or there are a million jobs you’d like to do so you can’t pick one. Admitting that you don’t have to have a full life plan prepared by graduation can be a huge weight off your shoulders. People change entire careers every day. Take opportunities that appeal to you, and you’ll find your way.