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Coping with stress as a student

Whether you’re an Aussie or here on a student visa, studying can be stressful. Maybe you’ve got too many assignments, an important exam coming up, or just feeling overwhelmed or homesick.

Student with her head on her text books

All students experience stress. In fact, data from the Medibank Better Health Index recently found that in people over 18 years old, incidence of stress amongst those who are not studying is at 24.3%; while incidence of stress amongst those who are now studying is at 31.2%.

Sometimes a bit of stress can be helpful, motivating you to study or finish an essay. But to help you get through your studies as calmly as possible, we’ve put together eight tips for coping with stress and anxiety.

1) Don’t panic

If you feel yourself getting stressed and anxious, the best thing to do is close your eyes and take long, slow, deep breaths. Go outside, fresh air is great for calming your nerves.

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.

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 have it on your computer desktop, and STICK TO IT. Also, set small goals, and reward yourself for hitting them.

4) Find a study buddy

Remember – you’re not alone. 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 help each other learn and cope.

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. Eat regular, healthy meals, get at least eight hours sleep a night, and exercise regularly.

6) Get your zen on

We recommend starting with mindfulness to relieve stress and help with focus. Mindfulness is the practice of resting your mind and body by focusing on the present moment. Visit Smiling Mind or download a great mindfulness app and see how mindfulness can help you.

7) Keep it natural

There are a number of things that can contribute to your stress, and the first is coffee. Coffee might seem like your best friend, but will most likely increase your anxiety or stress.

Alcohol and other stimulant drugs won’t make you study harder or write better, even drugs that you think will help you stay awake and focused. You’ll end up doing more harm than good.

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. Have a look at ReachOut, beyondblue, and Lifeline to start with.

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