The Stress Management Society

Here’s our top tips to help freshers manage their stress

61% of students rate the stress of their degree 7/10 or above

It’s normal for students to have a lot on their minds. Maybe it’s the next exam or essay deadline, or perhaps learning more about managing money has led to an early-term overspend. These things are all part of student life – but for some, the stress can start to mount up.

Students feeling stressed aren’t alone

For students who are stressed out about exams, deadlines or being in their overdrafts, the world can seem like a lonely place. There’s nothing worse than thinking things are plain sailing for everyone else, but NatWest’s Student Living Index shows us that in fact, many students around the country are feeling the heat.

 

So, why is this happening?

The growing pressures on students are understandable. Neil Shah, our Chief De-Stressing Officer, recognises the financial pressure placed on young people in full time education today. NatWest’s survey also tells us that the average student rent is £448 a month, but students only get £414.40 from loans on average in the same period. No wonder they’re worrying about their finances. Some students are spending as many as 28.6 hours a month working part-time, to help them cover their day-to-day costs.

On top of that, there’s study time too. Contrary to popular belief, the survey reveals that students spend over three times more on their studying than they do socialising. The average student is studying 91.7 hours a month, with Cambridge students averaging over 137 hours. Neil reveals that due to record numbers of students going to university every year, “uncertainties about job prospects” can be very stressful.

Stress isn’t all bad

Despite a lot of students reporting high levels of stress at university, 64% still rate the enjoyment of their degree a 7/10 or above. Neil adds that some stress, “when used appropriately, can be beneficial.” The increase in adrenaline can give a “boost of energy” and “focus our attention,” which is useful for studying. But Neil also warns that staying in “a state of stress for long periods can be detrimental to our health.” So how can students tackle excess worry head on?

The tools you can use to manage your stress

Maybe you’re going through stress yourself. Or perhaps you’re worried about a friend or family member, and don’t know what to say. Fortunately, there’s lots of things you can do to help you keep your stress to a manageable level. Neil has seven simple stress-busting tips that you can use right now, to help you take control of stressful situations, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your uni experience.

Say bye to the takeaways and ready meal  – “When your stress levels are high, your body can be depleted of vital nutrients.” A healthy diet will help you restore your natural levels and “make your body more resilient to the effects of stress.”

Try to keep regular bed times – Pulling all-nighters isn’t the best way to meet your deadlines. “When you regularly get a good night’s sleep it dramatically improves how your brain works,” and most importantly for students it will give you “the ability to learn or remember.”

Release those endorphins to help you feel relaxed – “When your body goes into a state of stress, it is expecting some kind of physical exercise.” So whether it’s a “walk around the block or a quick run,” it’s important to “make sure you build in some time to exercise daily.”

Manage your time, manage your stress – You can only do one thing at a time, so “good time management is essential if you want to handle a heavy workload without stress.”

Make a budget… – Taking the time to write down your income and your outgoings will help take the stressful mystery out of your finances. Work out “how much money you will have a week to spend.”

…And stick to that budget – NatWest’s survey reveals that 42% of students try to budget, but don’t always stick to it. Remember, “having a budget doesn’t mean anything unless you stick to it.”

Be honest about where you can cut costs – From buying supermarket own brands to batch cooking, “start to think about ways you can decrease spend.”  Reduced pressure on your budget is reduced pressure on you.