Image: Flickr – Thomas Haynie
[Hannah-Rose Bicknell | Features Editor]
Dealing with part-time jobs, assignments, exams, relationships and anything else that races through your mind can leave you feeling overwhelmed. At times you may feel as though you can’t cope with the pressure and end up becoming stressed. The most important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone – after all there are over 2,000 students at the University!
What exactly is stress you ask?
Stress on a biological level, is when a part of your brain called the hypothalamus sends a surge of hormones, mainly adrenaline, to either fight or flight from whatever is distressing you. Cortisol, the stress hormone, suppresses your appetite and keeps you awake, this mixed with adrenaline increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure, which can have some pretty bad effects. Especially if the stress is over a long period of time. On a practical level these effects will cause you to have headaches and stomach problems such as sharp pain. More often than not however, stress can lead to feeling of distrust, anger, anxiety and depression which in turn can destroy relationships at home and at work.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a recent study on the effect of stress in relation to health. They found that long term stress can mess with your immune system to the point where you will develop viral infections such as a cold or flu more easily and frequently. Stress in itself isn’t an illness, but can cause it. It’s important to recognise the symptoms and figure out ways of coping that suit you.
Here’s how to cope:
1) Student Wellbeing Centre: luckily for us, the University has a student wellbeing centre which offers a range of services to support you. They offer everything from online resources, to wellbeing workshops and are committed to helping you make the best out of your university experience. It can really help to get things off your chest sometimes, even if it’s just to moan about the person on the bus who wouldn’t take their bag off the seat.
You can contact them to make an appointment on 01707 284453 or visit the centre on College Lane campus above the student centre in the Hutton Hub.
2) Exercise: the old cliché, I know. But exercise releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers, sedatives and puts you in a ‘feel good’ mood. It won’t make your stress disappear but will reduce the amount of emotional intensity that comes with it.
3) Me time: and I don’t mean me time for five minutes then get straight back to the assignment that’s due in five days. I mean a full on day just doing what you want, when you want and how you want it. Let yourself be selfish and either blow off steam on a night out or chill at home in the bath. The choice is yours after all.
4) Pace yourself: you’re only human and every human has limits. It’s important to realise this and pace yourself throughout the day. Take regular breaks (and yes you have time to) from the assignment, exam revision, work or whatever it maybe. Take a walk outside, or do something that is the complete opposite for 15 minutes, to clear and calm your mind. In the end you may even find that your work improves.