As a student, particularly around exam periods, stress can be prevalent, but it is important to understand that stress is a natural feeling which helps you cope or even thrive in challenging situations. In small amounts, stress can be useful because it pushes you to work hard and do your best, such as doing exams. On the other hand, if you’re feeling very stressed to the point where you feel you can’t manage, it can affect your academic performance and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety. Did you know, 1-in-10 children in the UK are affected by mental health problems.
Knowing how to cope with stress is very important, especially during the challenging situation we find ourselves in today. The question many young people are asking themselves is: how can I cope with stress? This blog, with help from the NHS and Mental Health Foundation, will go through some signs that may indicate stress and ways to help you cope with stress.
Signs of stress
There are many possible signs of stress, and each person will have different combinations of these.
Stress can make us feel:
- like you can’t enjoy yourself
- like seeing only the negative
We may start to:
- Develop sleep problems
- Eat less/more
- Withdraw from others
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Feel short of breath
- Feel nauseous
Ways you can cope with stress
Get enough sleep
It would be easy for students to think that if they cut some hours of sleep, they will manage to use that time to learn more or be productive. However, after a full day of studying, your body needs rest. Sleep is known to be a natural but effective way to help students in many different ways, including coping with stress. If you’re operating in a sleep-deprived state, you’ll be less productive and may find it challenging to learn or remember information. Furthermore, sleep helps people rationalise and retain what they have learned during the day; it is known to improve memory. Aim to get a least 7-9 hours a night of sleep.
One of the healthiest ways to blow off steam is to get regular exercise. Without getting too scientific, doing sports, or even gentle exercise facilitates the release of endorphins, which in turn makes you feel good. Walking, dancing, running, and swimming are some of the best exercises for pumping up brain chemicals. Aim to be physically active every day, after all, any activity is better than none.
Listen to music
Today music plays an essential role in everyday life. Plato, a Greek philosopher said, “music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Listening to some of your favourite songs can help relieve stress. This can also include playing musical instruments of your choice. Do you have a song in mind? Why not take some time out today and listen to it?
Take calming breaths
Meditation is another effective way to keep your mind calm and peaceful. You just need to have a quiet place, sit, and lie down comfortably and close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes. When everything seems all over the place, meditation can help the mind and body to develop the power to focus. Therefore, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening find some time during the day to sit and breathe.
Eat a healthy diet
According to science, eating a healthy diet can boost your brainpower and, in effect, relieve stress. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel your best, in effect, reducing stress. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day and drink plenty of water. It’s easy to grab the quick packaged snacks, especially on-the-go, but swapping crisps for an apple, and fizz for water can make all the difference!
As a student, difficulties being organised can cause stress and decrease productivity. Therefore, aim to be as organised as you can. For example, one way to reduce stress is to keep a minimalist, soothing study area free of distractions and clutter. This can help you gain a positive feeling about your workspace, which helps test prep and encourages more studying. Try also keeping a to-do list nearby of things you want to achieve each day.
Need some more help understanding your stress or anxiety? Why not check out our blog on managing those nerves around results day.