Exams Stress Wellbeing

9 ways to stay calm and confident

Stress is the body’s natural reaction to pressures in life. What stresses someone out varies from person to person; from extreme situations to everyday challenges.  To a certain extent, stress is part of everyday life and is unavoidable – especially as a really important deadline looms. However, if you find your stress levels are rising there are strategies to help you cope and relax:

  1. Take study breaks: Make sure you take regular breaks when studying to recharge your batteries; this could just mean getting away from your desk around once an hour for 5-10 minutes. Try to go outside if you can and get some fresh air – you’ll come back to your work refreshed and ready to carry on working. The Pomodoro technique can help you structure your day and keep you focussed.
  1. Take quality time out: Breaks during study periods are really important, but so is taking some longer, guilt-free breaks. Enjoy spending time with friends, exercising, exploring the city, watching your favourite show – whatever you want to do, plan some time away from your studies to do it.
  1. Manage your workload: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the pressures of work, take some time out to break the things you have to do into manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time. Think about what you’ve got left to do (including formatting and proofreading) and prioritise your tasks, setting yourself smaller, realistic goals to ensure you won’t be leaving it all till the last minute. See Meredith’s how to create effect study habits for some great tips.
  1. Don’t forget to eat and drink: This may seem obvious but when you’re in a work bubble it can be surprisingly easy to neglect your diet and hydration. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at your desk and eat regular, healthy meals to properly fuel your body and brain.
  1. Relax: Relaxing is great to way to help yourself stay calm and effective. This can be in the form of meditation, yoga or any other sort of mindfulness activity. The University’s Counselling Service run regular mindfulness sessions, or you can look at their relaxation audio downloads.
  1. Get enough quality sleep: It may seem tempting to pull an all-nighter in order to get more work done, but without sleep your brain is going to get over-tired and the quality of your work may suffer. 6-9 hours of sleep each night will make sure you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s work.
  1. Talk to someone: If stress is really getting you down then talk to a friend, family member or tutor about how you’re feeling. Chances are they’ve gone through it before and can give you some advice on what works for them, and just getting your stress out in the open can really help you unload and think clearly.
  1. Accept the elements of randomness: Life isn’t always controllable. The best laid plans can go wrong, and it can be easy to always blame yourself, but try to understand that some things in life can’t be changed and move on from it rather than dwelling and getting more stressed about it.
  1. Be positive: You’re nearly there! Just think of all the hard work you’ve put in and visualise the feeling of achievement when you’ve finally handed in your work. All that stress will seem worth it in the end (we promise!).

And remember if things are getting too much there’s plenty of student support, including the Counselling Service  available to help you stay on track and take care of yourself.

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