14 ideas to tackle everyday anxiety and stress – things to action

Ever think, why do I feel so stressed so often? Ever wonder what you could do, to help yourself be calmer? We’ve come up with a list of ideas that offer you a “selection box” – choose the ones you fancy trying out!

  1. Sleep

Make sure you’re getting the amount you need. Enough sleep can help you feel confident and capable about the tasks in the day ahead. Too little sleep will leave you feeling physically and emotionally low from the minute you get up.

  1. Smile

Everyone needs a break from the seriousness of study now and then. It’s best if you can share a laugh with a friend or course-mate. If no-one’s around, watch a funny YouTube clip – limit yourself to 3 to benefit.

  1. Tidy

Mess in your room leads to stress in your mind. When your room’s tidy, your mind feels calmer. Take 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day, to put stuff away, giving yourself a calm environment.

working in a tidy living space can make a real difference

  1. Appreciate

Start a journal. In it, at the end of each day, write 3 things that have gone well.

  1. Eat

Avoid sugary and processed foods, which can increase symptoms of anxiety. Try to eat foods like eggs, oily fish, nuts, soya products, fortified milk and wholegrain cereals, that contain omega-3s, Vitamins B and D, especially important in autumn/winter to compensate for less sunshine.

  1. Breathe

Lengthening and strengthening the breath sends signals to your brain that it’s OK to relax. Slow your breathing by counting: in for 7, out for 11.

  1. Meditate

take some time to meditate and relax

If you like the idea of meditating, look it up and give it a go. It’s now understood that meditation can regulate your stress and anxiety levels, and distance yourself from negative thoughts. Give your mind a break and experience the long-term effects.

  1. Unwind

What would you most like to be doing? Playing the guitar? Drawing? Playing football? Cooking? Swimming? Creative writing? Reading? Watching a film? Running? Something completely different?  Give yourself permission to spend at least an hour a week with this as your focus.

  1. Disconnect

Noise and busy-ness easily lead to stress and anxiety. Starting with a length of time that feels manageable, maybe 5 minutes at first, find a slot each day when you turn off all electronics, ask friends not to disturb you, sit comfortably, and switch off from the world.

  1. Worry

Schedule a specific time every day to worry. Before you start this routine, decide what your post-worry activity will be. Make a promise to yourself that, for example, from 6:00 to 7:00 each evening, you’ll worry about everything that’s on your mind at the moment. Set an alarm, and ask a friend to text you when the time’s up.

  1. Plan

This is similar to being tidy. Develop habits that support you in being calm, e.g. pack your bag for the next day, the night before; put your keys in the same place each time you come home; back up the work you’ve done on the laptop before you close it down.

  1. Visualize

Imagine yourself easily managing a challenging situation. Picture yourself coming through it smiling and confident. “Guided visualisation” or “guided imagery” are techniques that can help reduce stress levels.

  1. Smell

This isn’t suggesting you don’t wash! Try buying some calming oils to scent your clothes or room. Basil, anise, and chamomile are great choices; they reduce tension in the body and help increase mental clarity.

  1. Socialise

Take a walk round campus with friends

Being with other people we get on with has a chemical impact on our brains, producing oxytocin, an anxiety-reducing hormone. So when you start feeling stressed or anxious, turn to others for a chat, or a walk round campus.

Some of these might just not feel right for you. Try to select at least 4 that you could build into your usual way of dealing with life.

If your levels of anxiety or stress don’t respond to these ideas soon enough, go and ask for medical or counselling help. Don’t suffer alone.  The University’s Counselling & Wellbeing service is on the first floor of the Carrington building – room 106.


MANXIETY…is it really a thing?

Ok, so you’ve probably heard of man-flu and mankini’s, but manxiety….?  Is this a rising phenomenon, is it something you should be aware of, does it even exist, or does it belittle the experience of anxiety experienced by men?  The term ‘manxiety’ is undoubtedly emotive, and you may well have a strong reaction to it, and in some ways that in itself is a positive as it gets people thinking and talking about anxiety.  Current estimates are that 8.2 million people (men & women) experience anxiety to a level that would be considered ‘clinical’.

So, why is it that anxiety and men is such a hot topic currently to the point that a new concept has been invented?  The rise of technology has its part to play – increasingly we are spending more time on social media and gaming, and it has become common place to hear people mentioning that they were chatting with their friends when they mean that they exchanged a couple of WhatsApp messages.  It’s very easy to hide how you are feeling when your chosen method of communication is a few carefully chosen words, or banter.  It’s also very easy to become plagued with self-doubt when everyone else seems to be having a better / easier / more interesting time than you.

Dressing like this is bound to bring on a bout of manxiety if nothing else! Source: https://dtuoscf35xuyg.cloudfront.net/556-large_default/borat-mankini.jpg

Dressing like this is bound to bring on a bout of manxiety if nothing else! Source: https://dtuoscf35xuyg.cloudfront.net/556-large_default/borat-mankini.jpg

Expectations are also at play with socio-cultural shifts and changing understanding of the role of men in society.  Our grand-parents generation had very clear role boundaries: the man was the main breadwinner, went out to work, wasn’t required to contribute much to child-care, and it was acceptable for them to disappear off into the shed / pub on a regular basis.  Nowadays, men’s roles are shifting and if anything, men are often still expected to be the main earner in a household, but also contribute to housework, be in-tune with their emotions, sensitive in the bedroom, and have a ‘six-pack’ to show.

Are you experiencing manxiety?  Signs that it might be time to ask for help:

  • Avoiding seminars as they are too intense & you might get asked a question;
  • Making excuses not to go on a night out when you used to enjoy going;
  • Feeling sick, or using the loo a lot before a presentation or interview;
  • Going red or getting excessively sweaty when in a new situation;
  • Being overly forgetful;
  • Getting easily agitated or put-off task.

Whether or not manxiety is a helpful term, the central point is that men do experience anxiety, and there is lots of support out there to help manage, and overcome it.  The Counselling & Wellbeing Service is a good start; we can provide 1:1 personalised input if you want to talk to a real person.  But, if that feels too daunting, CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably):  http://www.thecalmzone.net.gridhosted.co.uk  ) specifically targets men, and seeks to offer on-line support to a group who can often find it difficult to talk about how they feel, to acknowledge if they’re going through tough times, and possibly struggle to ask for help.