How to cope with feeling stressed and overwhelmed at university

Often, I feel overwhelmed. The demands of university work, having to take care of myself, social commitments and the general stress of living can pile on top of one another, until I can’t see over it; like an insurmountable mountain sitting on my chest.

Recently, I have experienced some instances where I’ve felt I couldn’t breathe properly and my limbs went entirely numb. Therefore, as the issue of mental health becomes increasingly prevalent among students, I thought it would be useful to share some of the tips I use to calm down and centre myself.

My first suggestion is to write in a journal. I find this helpful in clearing my mind. I write everything down; what I did that day, what I’m excited about, what I’m nervous about, a particular occurrence which has left me feeling confused or anxious; basically anything that’s on my mind, I put it down on the paper. Electronic or paper, luxurious or £2 from Ryman’s, a journal is a must for me.

Meditation has also been a great help. I use the app ‘Headspace’ to guide me through short meditations. I don’t do them daily, as suggested by the app, but I feel better every time I do. It helps ground me and remind me that there is much more to life than the obstacles I am facing.

Socialising is a huge part of life, especially at university. Something that helps me relieve some of the anxiety I feel about an overload of social commitments is making weekly ‘appointments’. For example, some of my friends and I see each other once a week for dinner at my flat, where we cook, chat and watch a film. Another good way to achieve a balance is by studying with friends. Although, at times it can be distracting to study with friends; a good alternative is to meet up during study breaks.

Finally, I make time for myself. Personally, that means putting on all my fairy lights, burning a candle and snuggling up in bed with Netflix or some relaxing music. I’ll admit that I find it easy to forget about this component, even though I consider it to be the most important one.

In my opinion, taking care of yourself and making sure you are mentally well are two of the most important aspects of life. I hope this little list will be helpful in reminding you (and me) to do so!

Image: Kelly Ignacek

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