Student life can be hard at times. You’re juggling a lot of different commitments, studying for exams, working part time and meeting all your deadlines. You’re expected to work and research independently and you’re learning lots of new things all at once. You’re so focused on getting good grades that anxiety creeps up on you. Suddenly, you feel like everything is getting a bit out of control. Don’t panic! We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you cope with stress and get your student life back in line.
1. Learn the difference between external or internal triggers
Stress can be a natural response to a situation in your life, or it can result from emotional habits and negative thoughts that are essentially not helpful. If it’s the day before your exams and you haven’t studied, for example, your stress is coming from an external trigger. Sometimes this kind of stress can be helpful because it provokes you into action. You may need to change your approach to study or prioritise your time management. If you’re getting good grades and you’re managing your tasks efficiently but you still feel stressed, then you’re dealing with internal triggers. This means that you may need to engage in some stress management strategies that are more focused on your emotional or physical health.
2.What to do if your stress is coming from external triggers
The biggest cause of externally triggered stress is time management that’s not working. How much time have you given yourself to complete your tasks? How many hours have you calculated you will need in order to study properly for your exam? To properly research and write a paper, you’ll need to start at least three weeks before the due date.
The best way to sort out your time management is to start off with a list of everything you need to do and create a calendar where you work backwards from all your due dates. Whether you use a calendar app or a diary, writing everything out is essential. You might think you can remember your tasks but with so much on something is sure to slip your mind.
Sometimes, you’ve tried setting up a timetable and it’s still all getting away from you. Recognising that you need some help to get back on track is important, too. If you need some extra time to get a handle on things, don’t be afraid to talk to staff. If you’re experiencing stress as a result of other external triggers such as family issues or financial problems, you should approach your student support staff to see what they can do to help.
3. What to do if your stress is coming from internal triggers
If you’ve taken a look at your time management and your life and you can’t find anything that stands out as the cause of your anxiety, you may need to think about emotional and mental health strategies. Exercise, sleeping habits and diet play a much more significant role in your stress levels than you might think. Make sure you’re eating food that’s good for your brain, sleeping well and getting regular exercise. Going for a jog or a workout at the gym can be a great way to relieve anxiety that seems to come from nowhere.
Life is full of stressful times. Learning how to manage your own attitude and practising healthy emotional coping methods will help you well beyond your time as a student. Developing a practice of meditation, mindfulness or relaxation can be a life-long tool. Seeing a counsellor or a behavioural psychologist can also help you identify negative thought patterns and teach you how to move beyond them. A lot of research has been done on the benefits you can gain from talk therapy. For example, the simple act of verbalising your anxieties can have a therapeutic effect on your brain.
Avoiding negative coping methods is just as essential. Using alcohol or unhealthy food as an emotional crutch may feel good initially, but these inputs send your body on an emotional roller coaster and ultimately don’t help.
More than anything, remember it’s OK to ask for help.
The University of Adelaide College has a dedicated student support staff on hand who are concerned with your well-being. We want you to be healthy and happy. If you’re feeling stressed, we want to know what we can do to help. Please contact us.