Published: 28 April 2021
This week, the Health and Wellbeing team are talking about one of the biggest factors that affect the daily life of every university student – stress.
They talk about why we feel stressed, the different kinds, and what we can do to fight back and find some calm in our daily lives.
“April is Stress Awareness Month, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring that powerful word to your attention – stress.
Over the last few weeks, the Health and Wellbeing team have been meeting you to discuss a range of issues in our regular Chai and Chat events.
One of those topics has been stress, how you can manage it and the resources you have access to help you deal with it.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adults in the UK have been so stressed in the last year that they felt overwhelmed.
It’s the feeling we get when we lose control, either over our body or our minds and it was particularly noticeable in the past year because of the pandemic.
Stress can come from a lot of different places. It can be social, psychological, environmental or financial.
It’s also possible to separate stress into two more broad categories: micro and macro.
The former is a major life event like the loss of a loved one, divorce or losing your job.
Micro stress, on the other hand, is caused by smaller everyday issues which can build up over time.
A helpful way of looking at it is the comparison between ‘distress’ and ‘eustress’.
The latter is a sort of positive stress. It causes adrenaline (the energy-giving hormone) to rush through our bodies and help us focus on what’s happening at that moment.
Put another way, eustress is something we can cope with.
Distress, on the other hand, is unpleasant and can often cause us to shut down meaning we can’t deal with what’s happening to us.
The challenge comes when our bodies think that something is distress even though it’s just eustress.
Long-lasting stress can have a serious impact on our mental and physical health, including on our gut and even heart.
The best way to approach managing stress is to learn about it, not try and get rid of it.
It will always be a part of our lives, so it’s more important to learn how it affects both our bodies and minds.
So, how can we train our brain to understand the difference between eustress and distress – making us more resilient?
There are lots of techniques you can try to calm your nervous system, slowing down your breathing and talking with people about how you feel.
For example, try:
- Meditative practices like yoga, Pilates or tai chi
- Speaking with friends and family about how you feel
- Journaling our every day – especially first thing in the morning, and last thing at night
There are loads of resources out there to help you cope with stress.
You could also look into apps like these:
It’s also worth looking into visual and auditory stimulus, which includes things such as ASMR (or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and just generally relaxing music like jazz, soul or Classical.”
As a University of Sunderland in London student, the Health and Wellbeing Team are here for you.
If you’d like to speak with a member of the team confidentially, you can book an appointment online.