Life can get incredibly busy when you're a student, and the little things we can do to be kinder to ourselves often become an afterthought. Here's eight tips to help you look after your wellbeing and manage stress and anxiety during busy study or exam periods.
1. Don’t panic
If you feel yourself getting stressed and anxious, close your eyes and take some long, slow, deep breaths. Incorporating breathing and muscle relaxation exercises into your daily routine can be beneficial to your overall wellbeing. Taking a few deep breaths will slow your heart rate down and make you feel more relaxed. Find out more about our five positive stress reducing techniques.
2. Think positive
Keep things in perspective. While exams and assignments are very important, try to remember that the world won’t end if you don’t do as well as you’d like. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t let anybody pressure you. Proactively scheduling ‘time out’ in your calendar each week will help you rejuvenate. Make the most of this ‘down time’ to reflect, meditate, or do something special for yourself to help keep your mind healthy.
3. Plan, plan, plan
If you’ve got a big exam or assignment coming up, or lots of them, plan your time. Make a day-by-day calendar, planning one to three hour blocks of study or work for each assessment, including breaks. Put it on the wall or sit it next to your laptop, and STICK TO IT. Also, set small goals, and reward yourself for hitting them.
4. Find a study buddy
You're not alone. Joining a community and building relationships with others is proven to make you feel good. Look around and you’ll see many other students, probably feeling exactly the same stress you are. Ask them to meet up for study sessions, and look to each other for support.
5. Look after yourself
Staying healthy is extremely important for managing stress and anxiety. Especially when your mum’s not around to nag you about it!
Your diet and mental health are closely related. Eating quality foods such as vegetables, fruit and lean protein helps to lift your mood, energy and concentration levels. Find out more about brain-boosting diets.
Exercise is a great outlet for stress release, plus it makes you feel good. When you exercise, endorphins are released through your body and blood is pumped to your brain, which lifts your mood and helps you think more clearly. Learn more about how exercise can boost your mood.
When it comes to mental health, sleep is a game changer. A good night's sleep helps you feel refreshed. It also boosts your mental and emotional resilience, helps you deal with daily challenges and improves the relationships you have with the people around you. Try to practise good sleeping habits, like going to bed at a regular time each night. Read our tips to getting a good night’s sleep.
6. Get your zen on
We recommend starting with mindfulness to relieve stress and help with focus. Mindfulness is focusing on the present. It’s about having awareness of your thoughts and learning to focus your attention to where you want it. Practising mindfulness in your day-to-day life can reduce stress and improve your physical and mental health. Why not try listening to a mindfulness podcast before bed or on one of your study breaks? Learn more about mindfulness.
7. Keep it natural
Keep a stash of healthy snacks in close reach and a bottle of water on your desk to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
Coffee might seem like your best friend, but could heighten your anxiety or stress. Alcohol and other stimulant drugs also won’t make you study harder or write better, even drugs that you think will help you stay awake and focused could be harmful and should be avoided.
8. Ask for help
Remember that it’s okay to ask for help, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Make an appointment at your school’s medical centre if there is one, ask student services if there’s a counsellor you can see, or visit a doctor and ask what you should do.
There are also some great organisations in Australia where you can find out how to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues like beyondblue.