In life, stress is unavoidable and during your university years, you are likely to encounter many moments in which you feel as though you cannot cope with the demands placed upon you. Exams, juggling a part-time job with learning and having to manage your own finances are all stress-inducing burdens that you’re likely to face.
A large amount of stress can really take its toll on your physical and mental health, so it’s important to take steps to address the situation and look for ways to improve it. London-based psychiatry and counselling practice, Psymplicity, who provide therapy for stress, detail their top tips for effective stress management.
Figure out what is causing you stress
In order to properly manage a stressful situation, we need to first understand what is triggering the problem, as we can’t take active steps to change something unless we know the root cause. By pinpointing the source of your stress, you are one step closer to organising your thoughts and taking practical steps to recover from it.
Once you’ve figured out the cause, the next step is to take a break from the stressor. Some are simply unavoidable and can’t be pushed to the side, such as a piece of coursework or an electricity bill. However, giving yourself time to relax and focus on something different for a little while will allow you to address the situation with a fresh mind set and hopefully a new perspective.
Research has shown that exercise is not just physically beneficial, but mentally too. Though it won’t magically make your stress vanish, it can certainly help in clearing your head and allowing you to deal with your problems in a calmer way.
Find activities you enjoy doing, whether it be running, swimming, Zumba, hula-hooping or even taking your dog for a walk – just 20 minutes a day will quickly give you the mood-boost you need to alleviate some stress. Luckily, most university unions have a wide range of physical activities/clubs you can join, which will also allow you to widen your social circle.
Though it might seem like a mammoth task to be around other people when you’re feeling very low, it’s important that you build a good support network. Socialising with friends, family and colleagues and talking things out with people who care about you is one of the best ways to relieve feelings of anxiety. Your close ones are likely to be honest with you and help you find solutions to your problems from an outsider perspective.
Meditation and mindfulness are fantastic ways to clear the mind and help us relax. Everyone can practice meditation, it’s simple, inexpensive and can be done anywhere. There are also now a number of smartphone apps and YouTube videos that can be used to help you de-stress.
Just 5 minutes of meditation when you wake up in the morning will allow you to approach the day with a positive, clearer head and thankfully, there are loads of different techniques out there to help you achieve your inner peace, so find the right one for you.
Avoid unhealthy behaviours
Everyone has different ways of handling stressful or traumatic life experiences and many people will turn to alcohol, smoking or other damaging habits as a coping mechanism. This is referred to as “avoidance behaviour” and although they may seem like an effective quick fix, in the long-term these types of unhealthy habits will actually make you feel worse. Addressing the problem head-on, rather than masking it, will do you more harm than good. Instead, seek to tackle the cause of stress.
It isn’t selfish to focus on yourself and do the things you love – in fact it’s essential in maintaining good mental health. Repeatedly putting the needs of other people before your own can add unnecessary pressure, so it’s important to regularly show yourself some love too.
Have some “me time” every day and take a moment to do something you really enjoy, whether that means watching a few episodes of Made in Chelsea back-to-back, cooking your favourite dish, or drawing a picture. Your happiness will soon increase and you’ll be able to approach stressful situations with a clear, positive mind.