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Taking steps to de-stress during the assessment period can increase your productivity, focus your work and improve your performance. It can also make you feel better!
From regular breaks to eating healthy food, there are plenty of simple things that you can do to make sure you are in the best possible frame of mind.
Here are some general tips which you might find useful:
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. Instead, set yourself realistic goals that allow you to prioritise your time. This will help to reduce anxiety by ensuring that the really important stuff is being covered.
A revision timetable can help. Break your study into small chunks and include key dates for each assessment and the topics that need to be covered. Try writing a daily ‘to do’ list, and as you work through your revision you can tick off the topics you complete so that you can see your progress.
Creating a daily routine and sticking to it can help you feel a lot more in control.
As well as affecting our physical health, what we eat can also have an impact on the way we feel.
Try to eat regularly and choose foods that release energy slowly to help to keep your sugar levels steady. Avoid junk food, alcohol and too much caffeine. Caffeine, for example, is a stimulant and can increase your stress levels rather than reduce them. You could always try swapping coffee for herbal tea or water, which will keep your body hydrated and allow you to cope better with stress.
Find out more about healthy eating and how food can affect your mood.
Exercise is a proven stress buster that can help boost energy levels and clear your mind.
Give yourself that push to get out for a run or just do a short workout at home. While any physical activity can help burn away tension and stress, rhythmic activities such as walking, running, dancing, cycling, tai chi and aerobics can be especially effective.
Adding an element of mindfulness by consciously paying attention to your body and the physical sensations while exercising can help to reduce the negative thoughts that often accompany periods of stress. Read our tips on keeping fit and exercising at home for some more ideas.
Remember to factor in regular breaks during your day, aiming for around 10 minutes every hour and a half of study. Get up and walk around, make a drink or do a sudoku puzzle – whatever works to take your mind off your studies and help you to relax.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing can create a state of restfulness, and as you learn these techniques, you can use them to reduce your stress levels and create a calm mind and body.
Take time out to do something you enjoy every day. You can even reward yourself for doing the work you need to. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive – just something as simple as a favourite meal or watching TV.
The quickest way to reduce stress is by taking a deep breath and using your senses—what you see, hear, taste and touch. It could be a view out of the window, smelling a specific scent, listening to a favourite piece of music, tasting a favourite food or hugging a pet.
Learn to relieve stress in the moment and you’ll be able to relax and focus yourself. The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover what works best for you.
This might be tough, but reducing your social media use for a few days could work wonders for your stress levels. If you can’t bear to switch off completely then think about silencing your phone while studying and set yourself a limit where you check-in at certain times of the day.
Checking social media when trying to revise can be a real distraction. Taking a break will give you time to spend on other things and allow you to focus and be more productive. You’ll also reduce your exposure to bad news, which in itself could help you feel more positive.
Good sleep patterns improve your thinking and concentration.
Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed the thing you need most is sleep. Allow half an hour or so to wind down from studying or using a computer before going to bed. This will help you to get a good night of sleep. Still struggling to go sleep? Put on some calming music and turn your phone off so you won’t be disturbed. Then slowly tense and release one muscle in your body at a time, and you should soon be able to drift off.
Even though we’re in lockdown, it’s important to take the time to connect virtually with friends and family. Making time to socialise can help you to relax, and having a good laugh is an excellent stress reliever.
Putting yourself under a lot of pressure will only have a negative effect on how you’re feeling. Listening to an audio guide on beating unhelpful thinking might help or you could try the Stress & Anxiety Companion App that the NHS recommends to calm the mind and change negative thoughts.
The University has partnered with mental fitness app Fika during COVID-19 to give all students access to an additional tool to stay motivated, productive, focused and connected during this period of remote work and study.
You can gain invaluable insights into the science behind your mental health and develop the seven skills of Mental Fitness: focus, confidence, motivation, connection, positivity, meaning and managing stress.
The key to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook. Take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise.
COVID-19 is having an impact on everyone’s daily lives. By following the guidelines on social distancing you’re helping to protect yourself, family, NHS, and community, but a consequence might be that you feel isolated, worried, and anxious, or you could be concerned about your health, or the health of others.
Student Services (including Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Service, and Student Welfare Advice & Guidance) will be providing enhanced support through video (Microsoft Teams or Zoom), phone and email between 9am and 5pm each day. Click here for contact details.
Students can also access the Big White Wall 24 hours a day if you need additional support.
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Sophie, an MRes English student, is the President of the Meditation Society and has written a blog about taking care of your wellbeing for #LivUniWellbeing Week 💙
Check out her tips here: