Stress is an inevitable part of life for everyone, whether you’re a university student or not. For university students in particular, stress can take a huge toll on your university experience. Coupled with the uncertainty regarding the global pandemic, stress can present itself in many forms to any student.
This may range from general exam/university stress, to financial stress or stressing about health. In this blog post, I will briefly discuss the aforementioned types of stress, and offer you practical tips on how to best manage & control stress.
Most people are able to manage stress using coping mechanisms such as playing a sport or participating in a hobby, reading, or the classic Netflix binge. However, for some, the stress can become overwhelming. It is important to deal with these feelings as soon as you encounter them.
The University of Reading offers comprehensive support for any students experiencing mental health issues, and you are advised to speak to the Student Welfare Team/Counselling and Wellbeing team or use the new Student Wellness Check if you believe you are experiencing an unhealthy level of stress. The friendly and experienced team will be able to offer you tailored support to help make your university experience the best that it can be!
This type of stress is most common among university students, and definitely a type of stress I have personally experienced. As a third-year law student, I know how daunting the endless reading material and seminar preparation can be, and you should know that these feelings are definitely normal. Some practical tips you could take to resolve exam stress could be:
– Form a study group with friends! Stress is unfortunately common for many students, and many of your friends will also experience stress in the run-up to exams. However, you could speak to your friends about forming a revision group to study together. By doing this, you and your friends will be able to digest exam content more efficiently, and revising with friends could also help make studying slightly more tolerable to help you reduce your stress levels.
– Split up revision – You should hopefully know that cramming the night before an exam can be a very risky way of revising, but one certainty is that it will increase your stress levels, sometimes to an unhealthy amount. Therefore, try and split up material to cover in chunks, and allocate specific times to go over content in that period. This is a much more systematic and methodical way of revising, and will probably mean you end up securing more marks in the exam too!
– Take breaks! – This, in my view, is the most important tip that is pretty much guaranteed to help reduce your stress. As mentioned previously, planning your revision time effectively will ensure you cover all material comprehensively. It’s also important to add breaks in between each revision session, which will give your brain a much-needed rest in between. A break can be anything – a snack break, taking a walk, or even a quick check on your social media platforms. Anything that will give your brain a quick breather will ensure you can remain fully focused during your revision and decrease your stress.
Financial stress is sadly also quite common amongst university students. Coming to university can be a very exciting time, but it’s important to keep within your spending limits and be sensible with your money. Here are some practical tips to ensure you stay sensible and avoid stressing over financial matters:
– Create a budget – a budget can be a hugely effective tool for anyone – student or otherwise. By creating a document with your income and outgoings, you can see what exactly you are spending the most money on, and perhaps areas you could limit your spending. There are many online tools to help you create a budget, so try for yourself – help manage your expenditure and reduce your stress.
– Balance your time effectively – Although I mentioned this in the revision section, I think making sure you are spending your time wisely could be useful in a monetary sense too. If you feel like you are spending a bit too much time watching Netflix, it could be worth picking up a part-time job during those hours. This could help bring in extra cash for your income, but can also be a much more productive use of your time. There are many flexible jobs available at the University or externally, but ensure you are comfortable with your university studies before embarking on additional work.
– Speak to university services – If you ever feel like the financial stress is becoming overwhelming, there is definitely help available. The University of Reading’s Financial Support team will be able to listen to your concerns, and offer you tailored advice to alleviate your worries. There is always help available at the University, so you never need to feel like you’re alone.
Considering the global pandemic, this is also a topic that appears to be on many people’s minds. Here are some practical tips that can help manage your stress relating to health. Remember, if this ever becomes too overwhelming, the Counselling and Wellbeing team will be happy to hear your concerns and can help you manage your stress effectively.
– Join a society: A society is a great way of making friends, but can also help make sure you stay fit and active. There are loads of different societies available at Reading, so you can choose any you’d fancy. If you’re athletically minded, there are sports societies available, or alternatively, if arts and crafts are more your fancy, there is definitely a society for you. Joining a society is a healthy way of managing your stress by helping you meet new people and connect with others.
– Take up a sport – Similar to this point, why not join a sport? You don’t need to be in a society for this, and there are many available – why not take up running? Reading has a picturesque campus and there are many joggers around the University who also use exercise as a way to relieve stress. Similarly, you could also get a membership for the gym in the SportsPark, and reduce calories as well as reduce stress.
– Plan meals effectively – At university, it can be quite tempting to get takeaways more often than is sensible. However, you should try to eat healthily wherever possible and maintain a balanced diet, and the easiest way to achieve this is through making meals yourself. There are supermarkets across Reading selling cheap and healthy ingredients, so you should try noting down a few recipes and experiment in the kitchen. This will also end up saving you money in the long-term, also another way to reduce stress!
Thank you for reading today’s blog, I hope these tips helped! Once again, if you ever feel like you are experiencing severe stress or mental health concerns, the University is there to support you. Speak to the Counselling and Wellbeing team who will be able to offer you specialist support – and remember you are never alone.
By Serena Kutty
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