Ups and Downs: How to combat stress whilst at University.
Higher education can often be an extremely stressful and difficult time. Deadlines and assignments can often clash with trying to get enough exercise, sleep well, socialise and improving your employability. It can be feel like the only way to get by is to start cutting parts of your life off, but this is the worst way to fix the issue as it often only leads to you feeling more down and still just as stressed. I am going to outline what I’ve learnt from my time at uni in how to best deal with and prevent stress.
Identify the way in which you work best: Throughout school, teachers always tell you to do stuff early and then you won’t have to worry about doing things last minute. For some people, this is the best way for them to work as it gives the least pressure and gives you the most flexibility in completing the work. However, for people including myself, I find that if I start way in advance of doing work I don’t pull my full effort into it and don’t produce my best work. Doing work “last minute” is not necessarily a bad thing, provided you know how much time you’re going to need in order to complete the work to the highest standard you can. Finding which way you work best, and not copying what others tell you to do, is the best way to make deadlines less stressful for yourself.
Plan ahead: This definitely is not easy for everyone, including me, but by getting yourself organised you can save yourself a lot of stress. Often towards the end of a term, lots of events and deadlines will begin to pile up. If you just have a long list of things to do, you can often get very stressed and overwhelmed leading to you not completing work to the highest standard or missing social events. By simply splitting up and prioritising work, giving yourself individual deadlines to make sure everything doesn’t become too much is an excellent way to take a massive mess of issues into a very achievable set of dates in your diary.
Keep doing the things you love: One massive thing which kept me going this year was playing football. Knowing that every Wednesday I would get to go down, have a great laugh and get some exercise was always the motivation I needed to work hard on Monday and Tuesday. Having moments away from academic stress is so key to not getting overwhelmed with stress, so whether it is sport, music, socialising or another hobby or interest, maintain whatever you are doing already, as it clears your head and works wonders for stopping stress!
Talking to people: It sounds so simple, but talking about how you are doing and if you are stressed can be so helpful. Whether it’s friends on your course, at uni or friends and family from home, just talking about how you are feeling can make the world of difference. It can help you to feel you aren’t alone, and that how you are feeling isn’t confined to you, and give you some encouragement when you are struggling or it can be nice just to know someone is there and believes in you. Either way, openly talking about times when you are feeling stressed is far better than pretending you are fine and not getting support when you need it.
Being honest with yourself: Sometimes, things can get too much. We all have moments in life where we can’t cope, and things do ten to mount up quickly. Being able to be self-aware enough that you can identify you are struggling and need help is essential to dealing with stress and can prevent other mental health issues from developing. Speaking to your tutor or other members of staff or having counselling to learn how to deal with stress can be the difference in getting yourself back on track. Don’t suffer in silence, university staff are incredibly understanding and only ever want you to succeed, so asking for help is always okay.
All of these different methods can be more or less beneficial depending on the person. That is the problem with stress, it affects everyone differently and is caused by many different factors. The best way to deal with stress is to always be proactive and honest with yourself, and believe regardless of how bad it may be, you will always pull through. Best of luck to everyone in the new term and the lead up to exams, and have a very wonderful New Year.