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Assessment time can be stressful, and while a little stress can provide a motivational push to get things done, taking steps to de-stress will help to increase your productivity, focus your work, and improve your performance.
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 tips which you might find useful:
Set yourself realistic goals that allow you to prioritise your time. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress, and you can help to reduce anxiety by ensuring that the really important stuff is being covered.
A revision or study timetable can help. Try writing a daily ‘to do’ list and tick off those you complete so that you can see your progress. Break your study into small chunks and include key dates for each assessment and the topics that need to be covered.
Creating a daily routine and sticking to it can help you feel a lot more in control.
What we eat can have an impact on the way we feel as well as affecting our physical health.
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. Try swapping coffee for herbal tea or water, which will keep your body hydrated and allow you to cope better with stress.
Exercise is a proven stress buster that can help give your energy levels a boost and clear your mind. Getting out for a run or walk, or to doing a short workout at home can really help.
Any physical activity can help burn away tension and stress, but 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 also help to reduce the negative thoughts that often accompany periods of stress.
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, listening to a favourite piece of music, a favourite scent, 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.
Reducing your social media use for a few days could work wonders for your stress levels.
Scrolling through your social media feed when trying to revise can be a real distraction and taking a break will help 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.
Remember to take regular breaks during your day. Aim for around 10 minutes every hour and a half of study. Get up and walk around, make a drink – 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.
Try to take some time out to do things you enjoy every day, and 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.
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.
It’s important to take the time to connect virtually with friends and family. Make the most of online study groups and friends from your course if you’re struggling with a piece of work, or just want to talk something over.
Making time to socialise, even virtually, 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.
The NHS suggest trying a stress & anxiety companion app to calm the mind and change negative thoughts, or have a listen to this audio guide on beating unhelpful thinking.
The Student Services team have created a menu of self-help resources that cover a number of different topics including anxiety, depression, and stress. Have a look and you may find an answer to your concern.
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.
Student Services (including Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Service, and Student Welfare Advice & Guidance) will be providing support through video (Microsoft Teams or Zoom), phone and email between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Click here for contact details.
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