Written by Sarah Stacey
MA Radio Production
University can be a stressful experience, especially at postgraduate level when the work becomes that little bit more intense and you only have a year to do everything in. I should confess at this point that I am the world’s biggest worrier – I stress about most things, and if it seems like there’s nothing to stress about, I will find something to stress about! If there was an award for that, I think I would win it hands down. If you are anything like me and find stress difficult to cope with, I hope that you’ll find some of the following tips helpful.
There are lots of causes of stress at uni, whether it’s the workload, exams, grades or everyday challenges such as paying rent or the cost of living. Whatever it is that’s stressing you out, some fresh air and exercise can really help. It doesn’t need to be anything too intense, so don’t worry if you’re not the type to go to the gym. My tactic this year has been to go for a walk down by the beach when I need to clear my head. Maybe it’s the sea air, the lovely views or a bit of both, but it makes a big difference to how I feel.
Eat and sleep well
It may sound like a cliché, but looking after yourself physically can help you feel mentally better too. This means eating well and keeping yourself hydrated as well as getting enough sleep. It may seem near impossible to get a good night’s sleep when you’re stressed and worrying about something, but there are lots of things you can try to help yourself relax before bed, like reading a book (not an academic one!) or having a hot drink. It might seem awfully tempting to pull an all-nighter to finish an assignment, but trust me, prioritising sleep makes you feel so much better and you’ll be in good shape to tackle the work during the day.
Talk about it
It’s not good to bottle things up when you’re stressed, and just talking to someone about how you feel – a tutor, friends, coursemates, family – makes the world of difference. Sometimes it can help to know that others on your course might be having the same work-related problems as you, and you can try and solve them together. Remember that there are lots of people at university who are there to support you if you’re having a tough time, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
If it’s work that has you stressed, try to make a plan of how much you’re going to get done in a given time. Set yourself goals such as word counts per day or specific tasks to complete on practical projects. It helps you to break it all down and suddenly everything seems much more achievable.
These are some of the main things that have worked for me, though clearly I need to remember to take my own advice once in a while! I hope it works for you too.
By Sarah Stacey