How to manage stress at university

Whether you have just moved to university and you are struggling with settling in; or if you are in final year and you are getting worried about this week’s work load; then have a read and see what methods you can use to help relieve the stress a little bit. We can become stressed for different reasons. Everyone is different so some people will be able to handle pressure a little bit differently to the next person. It is totally normal to feel stressed when you moved to university. Lots of things will be new and different so you will naturally feel slightly uncomfortable if things are exactly how you thought they would be.

Why do we get stressed?

We become stressed because it is a natural reaction caused when we feel under pressure. Stress can take over your whole life, it can affect your daily mood, how you interact with others and how you sleep. Stress can have a big effect on our sleep. When you are stressed, you have a lot on your mind and it can very often lead to restless nights.  This can eventually lead to a burnout.

How to manage stress:

It is really important for your mental health to try and combat this stress. There are multiple ways you can try and manage your personal stress so find what works for you and stick to it! There will be something that suits you so try different things until you are happy with what you are doing.

Use apps

There are multiple apps that have been created to help people reduce stress. These apps have functions such as exercises to help you breathe, stretching exercises and mindfulness workshops. You can simply download these apps onto your phone and use them whenever and wherever you are.

Headspace is an app that I would recommend. Not only does it help with mindfulness but is also helps with your sleep.

Additionally, you can use apps that offer mindfulness activities such as yoga which I mention later.

Find a yoga class

Yoga is known to be a stress releasing activity. You can do yoga from your own home with a virtual class or even use a YouTube video. If you wanted to go one step further you can find a class and join up. Lots of universities will be offering yoga so reach out to your sports department and see what they have on offer.

Yoga helps you to relax, it can help your body, your breathing and it helps to stop your mind racing.

Be active

Linking to the yoga activity which gets your body moving, if yoga is not your thing then try something else that is active. Try going for a jog in the fresh air. Exercise helps release endorphins which can help you relax; it will help with your mood. When you exercise, more blood is pumped around your body and to your brain. It is able to reach the part that responds to stress.

Your university will have a gym that you can sign up to along with different classes that you can join. Find an activity that you enjoy! For example,  I absolutely hate running so there would be no point me trying to run to reduce stress when it is not something I enjoy. So I started taking Zumba classes. I found this was a great way to raise my heart rate, stay healthy and I love it!

Take a break

If being active doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, then when not try and take a break in your schedule. This gives you time to take a minute and refresh. By doing this your thoughts will be collected and you will be more productive in your next tasks. Try taking a long bath or reading a book for a few hours. It is good to get your mind off the thing that are stressing you out.

Create a plan

When you are calm and taking a break from everything that is stressing you out, try and come up with a plan to help reduce your stress. I like to create a weekly timetable where I write down everything that is stressing me out and I sort out a day and time when I can solve that issue. I also like to timetable breaks and relaxation periods into my week.

There are apps for your phone and desktop that can create a template for you to help you produce a plan whether that be a weekly timetable or daily lists. I specifically like the app Todoist. You can also use templates on Microsoft Publisher.

Stay positive

Although I know this is sometimes hard to do while under a lot of stress, it is a good way to calm down and revaluate. By staying positive you are able to turn your negatives into positives. If you have a list of things you need to do you can start prioritising and slowly tick them off.

A nice thing to do is to go over some affirmations each morning to get you ready for the day. For example, get a notebook and write down 3 things you are grateful for today, along with something you want to achieve. This could be something as simple as making a home cooked dinner instead of getting a takeaway. This way you can celebrate the small things which will put you on the right tracks to keeping positive.

Use lists

Lists are a great way to get all of your jobs down in one place so you can see clearly what needs to be done. You do not need to worry about being able to remember everything in your head. I like to use the notes section on my phone but you can also write your lists down on paper.

Once you write down all the things you need to do, your next job is to prioritise them. So decide which jobs are the most important and put them at the top of your list so that you do them first. This way you can control your stress now you have a plan.

Mindfulness/ Wellness workshops

There are many workshops you can attend to learn some tips and tricks to looking after yourself. You will be able to find some virtual events online. Your university may even be running some wellness events. Try looking to see if there are any societies that focus on wellness.

These workshop includes meditation, learning what mindfulness is and exercises to help with this.

Speak to your student services

If you are struggling to manage your stress on your own, then there is always the option to get help. Your university will offer a service that you can use. Reach out to anyone where that be your mentor or a tutor and they will be able to point you in the right direction.

You will be able to meet someone for a one-on-one chat. They will be able to give you guidance on any problems that are causing you stress.

Final Thoughts

Trying to manage your stress can be a difficult thing when you first think about it. I find that speaking out loud to a friend or family member about the things that are causing you stress can be a great starting point. When you identify the issues with someone else they can sometimes offer you an alternative view.

I would always recommend starting with a plan, this way you can write down when you want to try and sort anything that is on your mind/ any jobs or work you need to do. You can also add in time to take breaks, time for exercise and time for mindfulness. Remember, you should always have a balance between any university work and your life. If you are overworking yourself then take a step back and revaluate.