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Coming to university for the first time and facing days full of lectures and seminars, followed by pages of reading that you’re expected to do in your own time can be incredibly stressful. Even students coming back for another year after a four-month break can find it hard to get back on track. Not only can stress make it incredibly difficult to complete your work, but it can be bad for your mental health too. Luckily, there are many simple ways to combat stress.
Many people find it extremely useful to have a weekly schedule that they can quickly glance at to know what they’re doing. Not only can you put your seminars and lectures onto it, but you can also plan the best time to do all your readings or attend any meetings that you have going on that week. When you are working, it helps to do so in smaller bursts of around 45 minutes, with 15-minute breaks to stretch your legs or to review the material you’ve gone through already.
However, it’s also important to plan time where you can switch off, where you can close your books and forget that you’re a university student for a while. Most people turn to Netflix or social media during this time, which is great, but what if you’re still feeling stressed? Reading that your friends have had an easy day doing absolutely nothing can make those feelings much worse, so sometimes it’s helpful to turn elsewhere to reduce your stress levels.
An extremely popular stress-reliever at the moment is adult colouring books, where you get to fill in gorgeous, detailed images that help whisk you away to your own little world. What lots of people don’t know is that there are also adult dot-to-dot books on the market which often go up to 1000 dots and can leave you feeling like a real artist.
Another popular way to release stress is through books such as Wreck This Journal or The Pointless Book, which are mostly-empty books containing a few prompts to help you get creative (and at times, incredibly destructive and messy). They let you relive your childhood days, where your biggest worry was which potato dinosaur you were going to rip the head off of first, and you’ll be surprised just how quickly they calm you down in the most stressful of situations.
Be sure to have some noise on in the background while you do these things too as otherwise it can feel too quiet and lonely. Whether you put on your favourite film, a TV programme you want to watch or a playlist filled with chilled-out songs, background noise can really help to change a mood, so pick something that you know is going to help you to relax.
Games are a hugely popular way to relax. Whether you’re someone who would prefer to open up solitaire or someone who enjoys running over poor, defenceless people in the latest Grand Theft Auto, getting into a whole other world can be extremely beneficial and if it’s not a way to take anger out, then it’s a way for you to focus on something outside of the real world. Of course, some people prefer opening a novel to escape reality, but the main idea is that you get to transport yourself elsewhere for an hour or two.
Sport can also be a great stress relief. You don’t have to be extremely fit or a number one athlete to get into it. There are plenty of clubs across campus that don’t require any experience of the sport to join, and it can be great to get away from work and meet friends for a friendly game. If that’s not your thing, then there are great routes around campus and through the woodlands that you can take a jog along, or even just a stroll if you don’t want to work up a sweat.
If you really need someone to talk to about stress then there are plenty of places you can go. Your JCR team will have a welfare officer that you can talk to if you need to get anything off of your chest or are looking for some advice on how to cope. You also have an academic advisor who will be happy to help if it’s your work that is getting you down or becoming a little overwhelming.
LUSU also have a number of ways to get in touch. Nightline is available after-hours for someone to speak to who is trained to listen to a whole range of problems without judgement, and it’s all anonymous, so you don’t have to worry about people knowing who you are and what you’re going through.
There’s also a counselling service on campus for those who are really worried about their stress levels and the affect that they’re having in day-to-day life. Also, if things aren’t picking up and you feel as though you’re struggling too often, you can go to the university health service or your local GP to talk through with them if it’s part of a bigger issue.