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Thrive: Stress

An overview of resources and support to keep you thriving at University.

Why stress isn't all bad

Stress is the body's reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It's an evolutionary response designed to keep us safe. It's very common, can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life. Stress becomes a problem when we don't have the tools to manage it, and when it's ongoing or long-term.

How to relax when you're stressed

Firstly, think about why you are stressed. Is it academic pressure, personal problems, or a combination of several things? Experiencing some stress is useful - it helps us physiologically to prepare for 'fight or flight'. However, too much stress is unhelpful and can lead to poor wellbeing. 

Secondly, think about what practical steps you can take to tackle the root cause of the stress/stressors. For practical advice on issues that might be causing you stress, check out the MDX welfare advice guides (link on the homepage). If it's your academic studies, ask for help from your lecturers, your Personal Tutor, SLAs or the Learning Enhancement Team. We have support teams ready to support you with whatever it is (or combination of things) causing you stress, so please reach out if you need a helping hand. It might be that whatever is causing you stress is something which is outside of your control, in which case you need to try to work on letting go of the worry. Mindfulness may help with this (see below). 

Exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress because it means that your brain releases endorphins which boost your mood. Exercise doesn't have to mean flogging yourself at the gym every day. Anything that gets you moving and your heart rate up - walking with a friend, dancing in your room, cycling to University etc. 

It is important to fuel your brain by eating a well balanced diet in periods of stress. Like a car, you have to ensure that you are fuelling yourself right to get the best performance with the fewest problems. 

Plan and organise what's stressing you out. Write a list of everything you need to get done and plan how you will do this. Be realistic - don't set yourself targets you can't achieve. Make sure that your to-do list goals are SMART and reward yourself when you complete tasks. 

Top 10 stress management techniques for students

45 easy ways to relax in your room

Students: 10 ways to beat stress

The Yerkes-Dodson law

Some stress is good for us and our performance - be that in exams, in sports or giving a presentation. Too much is not good for us though, particular over extended periods. 

Watch the video below on time management and planning - some of the best ways to manage stress associated with University workloads.