Today is International Stress Awareness Day, something I’m sure every single one of us knows something about. Deadlines, exams, balancing life, family, friendships, relationships, job prospects, careers, work, individual hardships, the list is truly endless.
Just getting through the day is not always an easy task. I believe the whole point of spreading awareness about the impact of stress on us is to remind everyone that self-care is essential and we’re only human – It’s okay not to be okay. Our mental health and well-being needs to be one of our top priorities. I know it’s easier said than done, but here are some tips to help you achieve that…
Create a stress-free space
This is personal to the individual, all it needs to be is something that calms and relaxes you. When I feel overcome with stress I put on one of my favourite films, Lilo and Stitch! It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen it a million times – what matters is that when I am feeling overwhelmed it takes me away from the moment I’m in and gives me some much needed escapism for two hours. That’s just me… other people use music, scented candles, baths, exercise – it doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it takes your mind away from everything that is building up on top of you.
You may think that doing something that isn’t productively contributing to countering your stress-load is just going to waste valuable time, but ultimately, sparing two hours to calm yourself so you can come back and re-evaluate the situation with a clearer head will be far more productive than powering through and increasingly getting worse and worse.
Make a to-do list
Nothing will enhance your stress levels quite like a surprise deadline that has crept out of nowhere. To avoid that feeling of impending doom it is so important to be aware of everything you have to do. I know that can also sound equally daunting but it is far better than the alternative.
For my own sanity I have a day planner, wall planner, and a diary that have everything in my life written down in them – university deadlines, Wessex Scene deadlines, social life events and so forth. Having a clear structure of what my week will entail has done wonders for lowering my stress levels. As sad as it may sound, crossing out something on my to-do-list is one of the best feelings in the world for me.
Writing everything down has stopped me from panicking about whether I have overlooked something and it keeps my life in order so I can juggle all sides of it.
Use the support system available to you
No one wants to be a burden and I know that is usually the worry we face when wanting to unload all of the issues bothering us. However, the most important thing to remember is, absolutely everyone experiences stress at some point or another. It is normal and everyone will be able to relate and have empathy for what you are experiencing.
Use your friends, use your family. They love you and care about you and they will listen, hug you and comfort you. Sometimes, the most beneficial thing you can do when you’re overwhelmed is to just let it all out, getting it all off your shoulders instead of keeping it all locked up inside is so important.
If you don’t feel comfortable using friends and family then that is also absolutely fine, but do use the services available to you at the University, whether that be Enabling Services or the Advice Centre because they are here specifically to help you and more than that, they want to.