The Guild is running its Stress Less campaign from 26-30 of April to help support students through a busy time of deadlines and exams! Find out more about the campaign here. Nightline will be posting throughout the week to get people more aware of stress and how to deal with it! Here is a blog post from the wonderful Serena about stress and some tips for coping with it.
If any feeling were universal, it is stress. Unfortunately, we are all only too familiar with the symptoms. Uneasiness, an unsettling feeling in our tummies, the inability to think straight or concentrate, being overwhelmed, exhausted and tearful? It’s okay, we are in this together. The thing is with stress, it doesn’t only come from external pressures. A lot of the time, it is our own brains overthinking situations or tasks that adds on stress to our already overflowing pile. Once an idea forms that something is ‘stressful’, it can feel pretty terrifying trying to overcome it. How amazing are our minds that they can affect us like that!? So much power! Luckily, it is also 100% within your power to battle stress. Your mind is YOURS, so it should work in YOUR favour.
Sometimes I struggle with the phrase ‘keep things in perspective’, because although, yes, of course, while perspective is hugely vital in life and something that everyone needs, it is also important to just be able to have a moan without feeling guilty. Yes, you have a roof over your head and clothes on your back, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to fully respect the emotions you feel. If something is causing you stress, that feeling is valid. Your concerns are valid, and you are valid.
Sometimes, stress is caused by feeling out of control or overwhelmed with life. The truth is, the only thing you do have control over is how you react to situations. But understanding your own mind can be more complicated than you think. As imperfect beings, we are sometimes irrational. And that’s okay! We can indulge ourselves occasionally! The key is to recognise the triggers to our stress, and to prevent it from spiralling into anxiety or panic. And very importantly, to not stress about being stressed. Stress is normal, and can even be beneficial up to a point.
Without stress to motivate me, I know I definitely would struggle to get things done. That’s why so many of us leave work so close to the deadline to complete it - without the imminent pressure, what's the point?! And maybe that’s something I need to work on, but I do like to see the good in things, and that is definitely one positive to stress.
So, how to handle stress? Everyone is different, so it’s just about finding what works for you. If a practical approach suits you better, keeping busy and staying on top of deadlines will prevent stress from becoming overwhelming. However, for some people it is not as simple as that, and that’s okay too.
I find listening to music really helpful. I love film scores, because we all deserve to feel like the main character. ‘Reading Soundtrack’ and ‘Calm Vibes’ on Spotify do the trick for me. They are good for working, as there’s no lyrics to distract you, and also good for just relaxing.
Watching your old comfort TV shows can help to ground you. Generally lighthearted and funny things are the best. For me, they are Peep Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the IT Crowd, Derry Girls, Fresh Meat, The Office US or any Louis Theroux documentary. Taking a breather and allowing yourself to just switch off for 20 minutes to an hour can help you to feel stronger and better equipped to be productive.
Now, this tip isn’t for everyone, especially as we are in student housing, but I’ve found burning incense to be AMAZING for stress. Put on the song Mid Air by GAEL, or Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part, and just watch the smoke swirl up into the sky. It’s *cheffs kiss*. You can find incense and incense burners on Amazon, but if you wish to be more environmentally and ethically conscious, plenty of independent sellers do them too.
Another rogue suggestion; facial massage. Put a good dollop of gentle face cream on your face, and massage it in. Not only is this great for your skin (you can never have too much moisturiser, no matter your skin type), but it is so therapeutic too. If you make peace signs with your fingers, and then bend those two fingers, and run those knuckles over your jawline and cheekbones, this acts as ‘lymphatic drainage’. I don’t know the science behind this, but if you just stop and close your eyes and breathe while massaging your face like this, I promise you will feel 10/10 afterwards (and maybe just a little sleepy).
I think what most of these techniques comes down to is mindfulness. I’ve never been a big advocate for mindfulness because in my head it’s like ‘mindful colouring’ and all that, but actually, just taking time out of your day to be totally present, away from external pressure, might not be so pointless after all. Giving yourself a chance to breathe and check-in with your feelings is the ultimate, and also the simplest form of self-care.
Embrace stress when it comes, it’s a part of life. It can help motivate you to produce some really good work, but really, nothing is worth your mind being consumed over. No amount of pressure or stress is worth sacrificing your own wellbeing. Your mind is yours, so treat it with kindness and patience - you will thank yourself for it. And, as always, if you’re stressed or sad please reach out, there are so many people who will be there for you to listen.
Written by Serena Shakshir
The Guild is running its Stress Less campaign from 26-30 of April to help support students through a busy time of deadlines and exams! Find out more about the campaign here.