Most students, at one point or another, experience enough stress that it has an effect on their health, happiness and grades.
Like all big changes in life, moving from high school to university or TAFE can make you feel nervous. You may be away from home for the first time, have greater financial and domestic responsibilities and limited contact with your parents. An obvious recipe for stress, right?
According to research carried out by headspace, 70 percent of Australian students
rate their mental health as poor or fair. So how can you get your mental health in check? How can you keep a lid on stress to stop it boiling over? Or avoid stress completely?
Simple exercises for relieving stress
Time is a factor when managing stress as a student. You’re busy, we get it, and finding time to relieve stress is difficult. That’s why we recommend these simple exercises to help you function at your best…
Visualisation can help you calm down by turning off your body’s stress response
. Find a private space and make yourself comfortable. Take a few slow, deep breaths to centre your attention. With your eyes closed, imagine yourself in a beautiful location where everything is as you would like it to be. This could be a beach, a mountain top, a forest, or in a raging nightclub if that’s your thing. You’re relaxed, you’re smiling, you’re feeling happy and you’re having a good time. Focus on the sensations - the sun on your skin, the sound of the waves, the rustle of the leaves, the fluid movements of your dancing. Stay in your scene, enjoying every sensation until you’re relaxed. Open your eyes and rejoin the world.
2. High-energy exercise
One of the healthiest ways to blow off steam is to get a regular exercise program
going. This could be a mid-study jog around the block, yoga in the morning, or a session on the treadmill when you’ve completed a study session. For times when frustrations are high, look for high-energy forms of exercise like boxing, martial arts or weight training.
3. Power naps
Approximately 30% of students experience sleep problems
, and if this is you it can make you approach each day in a sleep-deprived state, putting you at a disadvantage from the moment you get out of bed. The best solution for this is to sleep more at night, but if this isn’t an option, look at embracing power naps. Studies show
that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon reduces sleepiness, and also improves self-confidence and task performance.
Clutter is another cause of stress. It decreases productivity, limits concentration, and has negative effects on the way you work. Constant clutter can create constant low-grade stress putting your mind under continuous pressure. Organisation may seem like a time-consuming exercise, but an orderly space will actually save you time. How often have you run late for class because you can’t find your notes from the previous lesson?
Some ways to declutter include donating an item each day, having a garage sale, recycling, or selling older items you don’t use but are still in good condition.
5. Healthy diet
Your diet will either boost your brain power and energy or cloud your mind. It all depends on the choices you make. According to Harvard Medical School
, oily fish, dark leafy greens, tea and coffee, walnuts, and fresh fruit like berries are all foods that can help you stay more alert and improve concentration which will keep away stress. Sugary drinks, refined carbs and processed foods
, on the other hand, have a negative effect on learning, memory and stress.
6. Positive affirmations
Did you know that optimists actually experience better outcomes? It’s true! The habit of optimism and positive thinking can bring better health
, better relationships, and yes, better grades.
Reprogram your negative thoughts to make them positive and repeat the affirmation until it becomes part of your way of thinking. Think about what you’re trying to achieve, look at the end results and behaviours, and imagine reaching your goal. Create a few simple statements and hang them up where you’ll see them regularly. Think only what you want, not what you don’t want.
7. Step outside
Pretty much any walk you take will help you clear your mind and boost endorphins, but a walk in a national park or a beautiful natural space can help to put your body into a state of meditation. The phenomenon is known as “involuntary attention” and it allows you to reflect and reduce stress hormones. Ten minutes is all it takes to awaken the senses and create a sense of peace. Why not try a walk instead of your next coffee catch up?
Studies show that turning your frown upside down can impact your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and even prolong your life. Smiling causes a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Even fake smiling works, so whether you are genuinely happy or not, put a grin on your face!
9. Deep breaths
Any good yogi knows that breath plays an important role in nourishing the body. Breathing deeply helps you relax
, lowers blood pressure and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
The way you breathe affects your entire body. Breathing deeply sends the message to your brain to relax and calm down and your brain then sends this message to the rest of your body. Try sitting or lying in a comfortable position and putting one hand on your belly, just below your ribs. Breathe in through your nose and push your belly out. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling and feel your belly go in as you push the air out. Repeat three to ten times.
10. Go screen-free
If you’re taking a break from study make sure you take a break from screen time. Don’t hop off the computer to browse Facebook on your phone. Go outside or close your eyes instead.
Taking action against stress
The reality is that stress is a common part of student life. But you can take action to relieve stress and keep it from getting the better of you. Download these great apps to simplify study time
, make time for your friends, and follow the simple tips above. Make time for stress relief and make your mental health a priority.