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Student loans, student debt, no money to go out, relationships aren’t going well, course work and exams. To some, that’s a student’s lot in life – and it’s not much fun. “I feel stressed out!” is a common complaint. This article gives some tips and advice on dealing with stress at university.

You are not alone

 Well, the first good news is that you’re not alone. Many students are in the same boat but different people deal with stress in different ways.

And the second lot of good news is that stress isn’t always a bad thing. Everyone needs a certain amount of stress to thrive and stay motivated. But there is an optimum level to function at our best and it’s not unusual for students to have a little bit more than that “optimal” level.

Joined up thinking (lack of!)

Unfortunately, many students are not very good at dealing with stress. In many cases, it is due to immaturity. No matter how grown up you feel when you are at university, the biological fact is that the human brain in the late teens/early twenties is still relatively immature, and many of the nervous pathways are not fully formed.

However, that’s not always the case. Some students have very mature brains, but still feel unable to cope with the pressures of university life.

Signs of stress

Each person reacts differently to stress, but there are some signs that are universally recognised symptoms of stress. These include:

1. Cognitive signs - signs such as irritability, poor concentration and forgetfulness
2. Affective symptoms such as depression, anxiety, anger etc.
3. Somatic signs ( including muscle tension, ulcers, sore throats and general fatigue)
4. Behavioural symptoms (sleep disturbances, an increase in eating or drinking habits, smoking more, etc.).

If you regularly suffer some of these symptoms, it may be a sign that you are suffering from stress – and you need to do something about it.

Dealing with stress

One way to deal with stress is to accept that it’s okay to just put everything in your life on hold for a few days to give you a time to regain your sanity or to get some perspective on life. Trips home are an ideal vehicle for achieving this goal or maybe a short weekend break (somewhere cheap of course!).

One of the benefits of this approach is that it gives you time to become aware of
how out of control you’re feeling and set aside some time to work through it. This means you have to find out how your body reacts to pressure and the effects it has on your personality.

Ways to de-stress yourself

There are many ways of de-stressing yourself but the bottom line is that you need to take better care of yourself.

Here are some tips for de-stressing yourself:

• Eat a healthy balanced diet containing the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and don’t skip meals.

• Make sure you get enough sleep every night.
.
• Make sure you schedule time to pamper yourself.

• Ensure that you exercise, preferably every day and if possible outside.

• Make time to talk and laugh with your friends.

• Don’t be afraid of crying – crying can be a great tension releaser (a tear jerker movie is a good catalyst.)

• Listen to your favourite music.

• Touch someone or something – stroking an animal or pet is a proven stress reducer.

• Practice some relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing (a yoga class is a good way to learn these techniques).

• Practice good time management – make a list of the jobs you need to do and prioritise them. Cross jobs off your list as you complete them. It will give you a sense of achievement.

• Believe it or not, computer games can be good stress relievers (to too many though)

• Remove unnecessary stresses like leaving everything to the last-minute.

• Try to sort out your life priorities by removing unhealthy relationships, and over commitment.

The key to dealing with stress is to have a repertoire of these
stress management ideas which you know will work for you, and make sure you put them into practice.

 

 

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