Stress Awareness Month has been observed every April since 1992 to help raise awareness about stress, and how to better manage or prevent it from impacting your physical and mental well-being. As exam season approaches, we met with our Wellbeing Coordinator Louise Ranger, to ask what her top five stress-busting tips were, including advice on where else to go for support.
Sometimes we don’t even realise quite how stressed we are, especially when we are working hard with little time in the day to truly stop and reflect. Some of the signs other people may notice which we may not be quite so aware of are: being irritable, angry or tearful; feeling overly worried (when we don’t usually); struggling to make decisions and feeling stuck; having intrusive or racing thoughts (which sometimes keep us awake at night); and a really big one which is commonly report – feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. If you or someone else shows these early signs of stress there is plenty that can be done to help. Talk to Louise our Wellbeing Coordinator, the College Nurse, or your GP, and there are also some fantastic self-help resources in the Churchill Library wellbeing collection.
Further information: Stress – Every Mind Matters (NHS)
Sometimes symptoms of stress will go away on their own, especially if they are related to a period of high pressure. Think about after exams have finished or you have just handed in your thesis! If you find yourself still feeling stressed after a big event, then it may be time to address the stress. There are some great Cognitive Behaviour Technique (CBT) self-help techniques on the following link:
Did you know that stress makes it harder to remember things? Stress affects our brains, and can cause issues such as brain fog and recall, it can even make it difficult for our brain to create new memories. So, as students it is even more important to address stress if it continues past a period of pressure:
Not all stress is bad stress! Eustress is known as the positive stress in or lives, it is that roller coaster ride feeling (if you like roller coasters that is!). This is where a potentially stressful situation leads to a positive response, such as feeling excited and challenged. This is the type of stress which motivates you to reach your goals, so you would already have experienced this in your lives to get to where you are now:
Ways to reduce stress are really individual, what works for one person may not work for someone else. And often if we tell someone we are stressed and they start coming up with lots of advice, it can actually make us feel even more stressed! So keep trying until you find the right things for you. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress busting techniques can range from meditating, learning to breathe deeply, spending time with a pet, laughing, listening to music, even chewing gum and sniffing oranges!