Every Monday, firstpoint publishes our top five tips on a topic related to life at university. We’ll cover a wide range of topics such as making the most of your time at university, help with your studies, working through the challenges of communal living or maybe looking after yourself during exams and assessments.
firstpointFIVE016 – Minimising Stress
Tip 1: Recognising the signs of stress
There are many points when study at university, perhaps at times of assessment or when exams are approaching, you might experience stress. Sometimes stress can be a positive thing, pushing you to perform well. It can affect you negatively though, so recognising the signs and being aware of the impact is important. Take steps to prevent it from having an impact on your studies and your life.
Some physical signs of stress may include: breathlessness, nausea or changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, fidgeting or headaches.
Mental and emotional signs of stress may include: feeling emotional, irritability, difficulty concentrating, loss of sense of humour and lack of interest.
Tip 2: Get organised for study
Being organised and planning ahead can help you to exert more control over your life and your environment. Developing self-management skills, will improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. Think about:
- A timetable for completing coursework as soon as you know the requirements
- Plan to complete coursework a week ahead of submission date
- Be realistic about deadlines you set yourself
- Decide your priorities and stick to them
- Review task requirements to make sure you understand them
- Complete one task before moving on to another
- If a task is large and complicated, break it down in to more manageable ‘chunks’
- Focus on working to the best of your abilities, and knowing when to stop
- Seek help and communicate with your tutor if you are experiencing obstacles in your personal life, which are impacting your ability to meet deadlines
Tip 3: Learn to Relax
Learn to recognise potential sources of stress and mitigate for these. Getting organised is going to help, as will recognising the signs of stress.
Make sure you take regular breaks away from your studies. Do something different to break up long periods; practise a few relaxation techniques, talk to friends regularly and allow for some fun in your life!
Try some breathing techniques: breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth in a regular rhythm, gradually allowing your breathing to adjust its own depth. Techniques from yoga and meditation can be very useful; there are often sessions available through the University and at The Hive.
Tip 4: Look after your health
Coffee, alcohol and smoking all contribute to feelings of stress. Try to keep to a well-balanced diet and allow time to eat properly and regularly.
Exercise can be valuable because it helps to reduce the levels of stress-creating hormones and boost the happy-creating hormones in the bloodstream. You don’t need to be a great athlete to benefit from this, find a form of exercise that works for you. If you don’t fancy jogging, why not try a brisk walk instead and follow the university mile!
Tip 5: Seek sources of support
Although university can be stressful, there is no reason why you have to struggle alone. When stress seems to be overwhelming or you need to talk things through, there is a wide range of support available to you. You can begin by speaking with firstpoint.
firstpoint can help you access support and guidance from a number of teams, including:
Accommodation, Careers Advisers, Counselling and Mental Health Service, Disability and Dyslexia Service, Money Advisers, Student Support & Wellbeing Team and the Programme Advisers. Further support is available from your Personal Academic Tutor and the Students’ Union.
Come and have a chat with firstpoint and we can help you decide which teams you may wish to speak with; if you’d like, you can access ALL of the teams listed above!
There are also workshops throughout the year on topics such as Managing Anxiety, Procrastination, Perfectionism, Exam and Assessment Stress and Mindfulness. Have a look at the workshops webpage to see what’s available: www.worc.ac.uk/workshops