What is Stress?
- Situations or events that place us under pressure – for example, assignment deadlines, exams, money problems or relationship issues.
- Our response to those pressures – how we feel, think and behave when are finding it difficult to manage the demands placed on us.
Signs of stress
It is not possible to avoid stress completely, but there are strategies you can use to help to manage it more effectively:
Notice when things change
As the amount of pressure you are under changes, look out for signs that you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed. It is likely to be impacting on your ability to work at your best.
Identify your triggers
Try writing a list of the situations and challenges that trigger your stress response. Understanding the source of your stress will help you to manage it more effectively.
Are there practical steps you can take to reduce the pressure you are under?
There are four basic steps in solving a problem:
Think about sources of support for situations or tasks you find challenging. For example, the University offers a wide range of services, including help for academic, financial, and personal issues.
Organise your time
Breaking tasks into smaller steps and using a planner to schedule them will help you to manage your time more effectively and to feel more in control.
Remember to vary your activities and to build in regular breaks.
Sometimes you may have to accept that you cannot change a stressful situation and focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Look after yourself
Taking care of your physical health can help you to improve your emotional resilience and to manage your stress
Getting enough sleep will significantly help you to cope with stress. Stress can disrupt your sleep so take time to relax before going to bed. Try to establish a sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at set times. Avoid working late into the evening – you will be more productive if you get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed to study the next day.
Taking part in exercise and physical activity produces endorphins—‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain -and is a great stress-buster. It will also help you to sleep. Check out the free Sport for Wellbeing Programme at the Sports Centre.
When you're feeling stressed, it can be tempting to binge eat, or not to eat enough. But eating healthy, nutritious food will help to sustain you through times of stress
Take time to relax
Using relaxation techniques can help to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Practising mindfulness can help you to focus on the present, instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Find out more at Warwick University’s Mindful Library. You can also try this relaxation exercise:
Keep up with your interests and hobbies
Doing activities that you enjoy can give you time out from everyday pressures. You may find that you are better able to manage stressful situations or tasks when you have had a break from them.
Make time for your friends
Socialising and talking to people can help to reduce your stress and stop you from becoming isolated
Spending time in nature, walking or gardening, can help to boost your mood and relieve feelings of stress.
If stress levels continue to rise, you can end up feeling over stressed and not getting much done at all.
If your stress levels get too high and your performance drops, the best way to get back to working at your best is to take the time to reduce your stress levels. Go and do something you enjoy, something that relaxes you.
It’s a valuable use of your time as it will help you get back to working your best.
Download a PDF of our
Stress: Good or Bad?
The key to working at your best is to manage your stress levels to make sure they are neither too high nor too low.
A bit of stress or pressure can help you to get things done to the best of your ability.
When you have just the right amount of pressure, you are able to work at your optimum.
If your stress levels keep going up, you will reach a point where your performance drops. It takes longer to do things and it can be harder to understand things. At this point you may be struggling to get a balance and do well academically as well as feeling good.
Something has got to give...
This negative stress is what we are generally referring to when we talk about feeling stressed. Using stress management techniques can help you to maintain a healthy balance of stress.
Professional support for student stress
Although short periods of stress are normal, if you are experiencing long-term stress which is affecting your academic performance, or other areas of your life, you may need to seek help.
You can see your GP for medical support and information about medication.
Warwick University’s Wellbeing Support Services provide a range of free and confidential support to help with emotional and practical issues, and can signpost you to other services if needed.
IAPT is a service provided by the NHS Partnership Trust and CW Mind for people who are feeling stressed, anxious, low in mood or depressed. You can refer yourself to the IAPT service by calling: 024 7667 1090 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.