Image by: Anna Gutermuth
Going off to university is the first adventure of adulthood for many. It is a major life change to strike out on this quest and go to a big city, leaving friends and family behind to start a new life as a student. And just like every other new stage in life, this can be terrifying at first.
Your newly acquired independence brings along with it responsibilities and numerous things to worry about – finding accommodation, the decision on which classes to take and working out how to cope with the workload are just a fraction of what a student has to trouble him or herself with.
Sometimes this can become overwhelming and particularly during exam time many students suffer from stress. It might sound like a minor annoyance, but stress can have an impact on not just your mood but your mental and even physical health too!
Warning Signs of Stress
Luckily, there are some warning signs you can keep an eye out for that might mean you are more than just a little stressed out.
Everyone knows this scenario: An important exam is tomorrow, you studied your head off and want to get a few hours’ sleep, but then thoughts are racing through your mind and after hours of tossing your sheets around you finally drift off only to disturbed by your alarm clock. Not quite refreshed, you are off to write your exam. It’s a stressful experience, but luckily this kind of stress is usually short-term.
People who are heading for stress-related depression are long past this stage. They simply feel tired all day long, even though they might not have spent the night brooding. They get enough of their worries throughout the day, when they struggle to concentrate on their tasks thanks to all the troubles creeping through their thoughts. A feeling of emptiness and a pessimistic world view adds to the whole picture.
All too often, emotional disturbances have an effect on appetite; loss of appetite or overeating might be signs of a depression, whilst stress itself can cause weight-loss regardless of how much you’re eating.
Breaking the Stress Cycle
If you notice any warning signs – weight loss, insomnia, a bleak outlook and so on – and think you may be suffering from stress, the golden rule is to talk about your problems. If you’re having trouble with your workload it might help to ask fellow students for advice. They might even be struggling with the same assignment and you could join forces to share the workload (but no cheating of course).
Also, don’t procrastinate! Many students do it, but not everyone is able to handle procrastination. After all, if you remove some of the major triggers of stress such as not having enough time to finish an assignment, you’re less likely to be in a stress-fuelled rush to finish it. If you know deadlines get you stressed, set a work timetable and stick to it.
Don’t overwork yourself however, which is just as likely to get you stressed out; take breaks, see different scenery and go for a coffee with friends where you can talk about something other than revision for a few minutes.
If troubles should arise that are greater than just stressing over your coursework, there will be a helpline on campus or on the Students’ Union website that you can call for advice. Many universities offer workshops on how to cope with stress too, and don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor, especially if the stress is interfering with your daily life, eating habits or ability to sleep.
You can find out more about stress and other student-health related topics in the Doctor Fox Student Health Guide.
Blog article written by Allie Redmond – a student who’s gone through her fair share of stress but now has the revision and relaxation techniques to copy with whatever student life throws her way!