Blog & Insights

Tips to help you stress down

Stress is an entirely normal response. It’s our body’s way of alerting us to unusual or ongoing environmental factors. It’s easy for people to say, don’t stress, but that’s not always easy to do.

Perhaps what is most important is being able to recognise when we are feeling stressed, why we are feeling stressed and what we can do to manage it. Essentially, we need to have some strategies and mechanisms on hand to realign our minds and our well-being.

Here are some practical (and free) ways to relax, refocus and stress down.

Keep it moving!

Any form of exercise is one of the best ways to mitigate a build up of stress and tension. Exercise releases happy endorphins in to our system, which then hang around and give us a real mood boost for a good few hours afterwards. If you can combine this with a social element such as walking with a friend, playing a team sport or joining a university club you’ll get double the benefits.

Feed your mood

It’s all too easy to grab that packet of ready noodles for dinner, particularly if you are studying under pressure or feeling a bit low. Try and resist these habits and reach for fresher produce that will have a greater impact on your overall wellbeing. Carbohydrates are your friend and are known to increase levels of serotonin (a chemical that your body produces to reduce stress and combat tension). Avocados and oily fish like salmon are also well known for their ongoing health benefits – their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are known to will boost your concentration levels.

Mindfulness

More than ever, people are using this increasingly popular technique to help them tune out the ‘noise’ of everyday life and refocus on the present. A relaxation practise that primarily utilises deep breathing, mindfulness is now widely accessible either through physical classes of guided meditation or free apps such as Calm and Headspace. Use the time positively to forget the daily pressures and pain points and take the stress out of your day. With regular practise, simply sitting quietly and concentrating on our breathing pattern has an incredibly calming and powerful effect.

Time management

We’ve all been there. The tasks are building up, you have assignments coming out of your ears and deadlines are looming fast. It’s easier to lose yourself in a YouTube rabbit hole than even know where to begin. Don’t panic, the trick is to simply plan out your time in a realistic and achievable way. Write yourself out a schedule, use a task list to prioritise important and non-urgent work and make sure you have a planner on hand to write it all down. By articulating the pressure points you can relieve your mind from constantly turning over the issues and feeling stressed. Stick to the schedule where you can and make adjustments where you can’t. Try to mix up your study habits to keep it fresh and interesting – working with a friend can keep you motivated and on track as well as providing important social benefits.

It’s good to talk

Inherently we are social creatures so just being around other people can often make us feel better. Sometimes a good chat is the best remedy. Take time out from the online social world and seek out real people for company and advice. Talk through any issues you are facing and compare notes with others experiencing similar situations. Remember to always take regular breaks from your work – for a healthy balanced outlook it’s as important to actively exercise the social aspect of your life as well as the academic part.

Don’t skip the zeds

We need 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night to retain good mental health. If you struggle with sleep patterns, try to establish a routine that will aid your sleep habits. It’s a good idea to turn all screens off at least 1 hour before bed, cover up the books so there is nothing to distract you, and maybe try a bath or a book just beforehand to signal approaching rest time.

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