Stress is not fun. It can make you feel unlike yourself and take a toll on the people around you. With university exams, coursework and living independently for the first time, it can be a difficult period to adjust and manage yourself effectively.
According to the Natwest Student Living Index 2019, based on a survey of 3,604 students at UK universities, almost half (45 per cent) felt stressed by their university course.
The feeling of stress is not enjoyable. However, we do need a bit of stress in our lives – say WHAT? Yes, that’s right. A healthy amount of stress keeps us on our toes, tunes up our brains and improves performance. And maybe you are someone who works better under pressure? Not to say you should hand in your assignment five minutes before the deadline – I’m sure we have all been there though…
If you are someone who regularly experiences stress and is unsure of the best way to relieve it, it might be worth giving these 5 things a try…
Pinpoint the Reason
Sounds simple, but pinning down the reason why you are stressed is a good way to start. Ask yourself, what is the main reason I am stressed right now? By doing this, it can eliminate all of the different things whizzing around in your head. Figuring out the sole reason may make things clearer as to why you are stressing. Which in return, might help you come up with a solution and reduce some of the unneeded stress!
Write it Out
If the thoughts are uncontrollable, writing things out on a piece of paper can help. It doesn’t matter how messy the words are on the page, get it all out! After you have word vomited, take a step back and look at the paper. Think about those stresses written down and ask yourself, how important is it that I stress over this? Is it worth my time and energy? – maybe not!
Create a Better Space
Creating a relaxing environment where you do university work or unwind can make a huge difference in stress levels. It is a good idea to consider working in a different location than your bedroom – the library may become your second home! This way, you will not associate your bedroom as a place of ‘doing work’. Your bedroom should be your safe haven to destress, feel calm and sleep. So, if you can disconnect your bedroom from work, do it!
However, maybe you have no choice but to work in your room. If so, think about natural light, tidiness, noise level and temperature. Maybe you have a desk area in your bedroom? If so, can you reposition your desk to face the window? It is a good idea to keep your room as tidy as possible too – the last thing you want to stress over is the pile of washing in the corner. And you know, they do say, tidy room tidy mind!
Invest in some calming assets for your bedroom. Furnishings with soft finishes and muted colours provide a more comforting feel. Indoor plants, a fresh-smelling diffuser and some candles can make all the difference too. Spend some time making your room a place to feel at peace.
It is SO essential to prioritise sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep can drastically improve our tolerance to stressful situations. If you are more rested and have more energy, you are more likely to think clearer and not so anxiously.
Stress can impact sleep. It causes the autonomic nervous system to release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These cause a raised heart rate and to circulate blood to vital organs and muscles more efficiently. This prepares the body to take immediate action if necessary – known as fight or flight. And so, this keeps our bodies alert and hard to fall asleep.
The downfall is we need sleep to reduce stress levels, yet stress can make it difficult to fall asleep. Mindfulness meditation, lowering caffeine intake and adopting a regular bedtime routine can help with a better sleep schedule – give these a try!
Exercising releases endorphins and can burn off anxious energy. If you have found yourself experiencing a particularly stressful day, going for a run, doing a home workout or spending some time at the gym is a great way of releasing built-up stress. You will find long-term you’ll feel calmer and potentially more confident.
Doing regular exercise will also improve your sleep drastically. Pushing your body to raise its heart rate and use more energy will in return make your body feel sleepier in the evenings.
Stress: The Bottom Line
We will never be able to eliminate all stress – our bodies just do it and we need small doses. But it is always beneficial to know some ways to reduce extreme stress or the regularity of it. Give these a go and remember that some things are just not worth stressing over – life is short and precious!