By Sofia Bulut, Music Production Student at Leeds Conservatoire
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Being a student means that stress is a common feeling in all our lives. So, how do we make ourselves aware of that stress? How do we make it manageable?
To add a little context, I’m a student living with a disability and I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed recovering from my recent operation. So, I like to think I’m pretty well-versed in coping strategies for stress.
Why am I so keen to share my knowledge now? Well, this week is International Stress Awareness Week and it’s a great opportunity to highlight the importance of talking about stress and to learn about how to deal with stress in your own way.
What is stress?
Well, straight from the NHS website, they describe stress as â€˜the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure.’ Which I believe is a great description.
You can be under pressure due to a whole heap of different things; family issues, exam stress, relationship stressâ€¦ the list could go on and on.
Stress is a horrible, negative emotion that can make your stomach knot up, even giving you anxiety because of how much pressure and stress you’re putting on yourself.
Stress can have some awful effects on your mind and body â€” it’s so important to recognise this so you can learn to deal with it in a healthy way.
Stress is normal
Yep, you read that right. Everyone gets stressed, but that doesn’t mean how you’re feeling is unimportant. No matter how silly you feel, it’s important to reach out when you think that it’s getting too much for you.
There are three different types of stress: acute, episodic acute, and chronic stress. Acute stress is the most common type, the type of stress most people deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Episodic acute stress is when stress happens a lot more than average, it can make you feel like everything is going wrong all the time and can be absolutely exhausting.
Finally chronic stress is an ongoing bout of stress that could have been triggered by many things, like money issues. As you can imagine, this is a pretty common cause of stress for students.
So, what can you do? Talk to your friends and make sure that they’re handling their stress. Make sure you check in with yourself and try to find ways to harness your stress too â€” here’s some ways you can do that.
How I cope with stress
1. Find time to relax
This is probably the most important way to cope with stress. Finding time to do things for yourself is so important.
Whether that’s reading a book, watching your favourite film, or even going out with some friends; you need to find time to do the things that you want to do.
Taking time away can help your brain work through the problem, rather than reworking it in your head over and over again.
2. Talk to people you trust
Sometimes, everything can get a bit too much. It’s so important to communicate with your friends how you’re feeling when this happens. You don’t want to bite their head off because you’re feeling down.
Sharing your feelings with people you trust will bring that weight off your shoulders and help them understand how to help you in their own little way, too.
They will be able to offer a more objective and completely different perspective on the thing that’s stressing you out, which is always super helpful for finding a solution.
3. Treat yourself
This could feel like an obvious one, but it’s so easy to forget to take good care of yourself when you’re stressed. If you’re stressed out, chances are you deserve a break and something a little special anyway.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Cook your favourite meal, have a relaxing bath, or get outside if you can. Why not pop to Maccies for a £1.99 Big Mac and fries?
Doing something for yourself can help you focus your energy onto something else, leaving the stress of the day behind, even for a little while.
4. Connect with others
Sometimes, after a really stressful and horrible day, a hug from your friend can be just what you need. You might even find that they’re going through something similar and that you can help each other out.
The idea here is to help you gain perspective and also just have some fun! Don’t let the stress eat away at your social life.
Make sure you find time to tell others about your day, chat with you housemates, and share moments to help you forget about what’s worrying you.
5. Take care of your body
Making sure that you’re eating right, getting some sleep, or even just slowing down and listening to your body is super important. Your physical health will help you to take care of your mental health too.
When you’re overworked and undernourished, everything can feel like a lot of effort, things pile up, and life’s more stressful. Doing a little bit every day to stay healthy and happy will make all the difference when dealing with your stress levels.
Remember, stress is sooo NORMAL. It’s all about how you handle it. So, this International Stress Awareness Week, take some time for you and figure out how to lighten the weight of your worries.
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