Monday 7 November 2022

Feeling stressed?

International Stress Awareness Week was created in 2018 to raise awareness about stress prevention. Sub-editors, Joe and Sarah, have come together to share their thoughts.

- Student Minds Editorial Team

✨ What are your experiences of stress at university? ✨

⭐ Joe (Student): I doubt that there are many students who can say that they went through their time at university without experiencing any stress. I know I did myself, particularly when it came to trying to balance university work with having a social life, exercising and completing other tasks such as applying for placement roles. 

Unsurprisingly, my stress levels were typically highest when I had an impending deadline, and my time management wasn’t amazing, meaning I was often still writing an essay the day before it was due. As a result, I put myself in some stressful situations, but over time I learned how long it roughly took me to write essays and therefore always ensured that I stopped planning at a point that would give me enough time to write the essay. This meant that even if I was finishing off an essay the day before it was due, I wouldn’t’ve given myself too much to do in too little time. 

It was important for me to recognise that everyone works differently and to not stress myself out if someone had finished a piece of work before I had. I also found going to the gym to be a great stress reliever and I always tried to incorporate it into my day, even close to deadlines, as it gave me something else to focus on and would make me more productive when I came back to completing university work.

⭐ Alyssa (Student): As a PhD student with caregiver responsibilities, it can be very stressful to try and manage both. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the conflicting pressures of family and academia and feeling torn between two necessities can have a serious impact on your mental health. 

This can be especially stressful for someone who lives with ADHD and, thus, already experiences difficulty with time management. But living with these pressures has shown me just how important it is to find positive coping mechanisms. 

Making detailed to-do lists which account for everything I need to do has been a huge help; I find that seeing a list of accomplished tasks really reduces my stress and helps me to see how far I’ve come. Making time to check in with my friends is super helpful as well; having a positive support system in place encourages and motivates me, no matter what I’m going through. 

⭐ Sarah (Student): As a perfectionist, deadlines are my worst nightmare. I'm sure every university student has suffered from trying to scrape together an essay with a deadline that looms ever closer. For the perfectionists among us, every submission has to meet our impossibly high standards - and for me, this stress is sometimes paralysing. How do you even begin to write something, when you're judging each and every word you type?

I'm by no means 'cured' of my perfectionist tendencies, but there are a couple of ways that I cope with the stress of academia.

First of all, I'm no longer afraid to ask for an extension! For whatever reason, I used to feel like asking for an extension signalled that I was 'failing' or less than perfect in some way - so I waited until I was being utterly crushed by stress before reaching out. Now my motto is: if you don't ask, you won't receive.

Sometimes, though, asking for an extension isn't helpful or feasible. In any case, the main thought that gets me through a stressful situation is reminding myself that I've survived every other difficult and stressful situation in my life so far. And that makes me incredibly strong, capable of tackling the stresses that life throws at me. Every time, the stress has passed on by - and I'll make sure that I'll see this one through, too.

Read more about the small steps you can take to look after your well-being.

Written by the Student Minds Editorial Team. Find out more about them here.

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