We all feel stressed sometimes. Now add academic pressure, exams, essays and deadlines into the mix and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Stress can manifest itself in a variety of emotional and physical ways, from irritability to headaches, and from tearfulness to digestive issues. But what can we do to help when someone close to us tells us they are stressed?
Here are 6 ways you can be there for your friends and support them through the next few weeks:
1. Listen to them
Sometimes people just need someone who will listen to them. Before they start thinking about what they should do next, allow them the time to vent about their feelings and get everything off their chest. When listening, really let the person get their full thought out before responding to show the person that what they’re saying is important, then ask questions instead of jumping in with your own personal experience.
2. Do something nice
If your friend is stressed out and not taking time to look after themselves the best they could, think about how you could take the pressure off for them. Maybe you could drop in with a nourishing meal for them, help them out with a practical task or offer to do some collaborative work with them. Things can feel more manageable for people when they know they can share the load.
3. Get active together
Exercise is proven to help with anxiety, but it can be hard to find the motivation in yourself when feeling stressed out. By going along with your friend, it can make it easier for them. Maybe you could try a gym class together, or just go for a walk. It’s also a nice opportunity for your friend to take their mind off their exams and take a well-deserved break.
4. Have some fun
It’s easy for some people to feel guilty that they’re not studying 24/7, but believe it a few hours of fun won’t derail anyone’s revision or studying. Find a time when your friend can have some downtime and plan something fun – whether that’s a coffee break or a night in with friends it’ll help everyone to take their minds off work for a little while.
5. Be their study partner
Some people work well alone when it comes to study but others can work differently. You could set up a shared study space to give them some company, or if you have time, offer to help them with their revision and run through notes together. You can also point them to online resources like the Library’s My Learning Essentials.
6. Speak to someone
Most episodes of stress will resolve themselves, but watch out for any symptoms in your friend that might indicate a bigger issue. If they are withdrawn, having regular trouble sleeping, experiencing physical issues like headaches or nausea or if you just feel like something ‘isn’t quite right’ with them, encourage your friend to seek help from their GP or to contact the University’s Mental Health and Counselling Service to talk to someone who can help them through it.
And finally, remember that taking care of someone else can be hard on you, too. Take care of yourself and make sure you prioritise looking after yourself too.