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Stress awareness

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Published: 13 April 2022

University of Sunderland in London student in a lecture room

Life as a student can be filled with discovery, opportunity and learning. But it’s no exaggeration. But with new challenges and assignment deadlines comes a certain level of stress. 

This week, the Health and Wellbeing, are taking a look at stress, its causes and what we can do to reduce the impact it can have on our lives.   

“Stress is a natural response our bodies have to the pressures we all go through in life. It comes from early human history when we needed to respond quickly to threats.   

These days, though, it can manifest more as a loss of control. While it’s natural to want to find ways of avoiding stress, it’s more important to work on using it – learning the difference between positive and negative stress.  

The more technical term for this is eustress and distress. The former is short term, motivational and can even be exciting. It helps us get things done.   

The latter on the other hand causes anxiety, can last for much longer and leads to a decrease in performance.   

Living in a state of distress for too long can lead to panic attacks, depression, obesity and even heart attacks.   

So how do we tell the difference? A good start is to be curious about your thought patterns. What triggers stress in you and how does it feel?   

Understanding your reactions to outside influence is the first step to being able to control them.  

Approaches to managing stress  

There are four general processes to consider when managing stress.  

1) Develop  

Creating a positive mindset and working on your visualisation skills. Basically, when you find yourself thinking negative things, take a breath and challenge that thought process.  

Taking cold showers and learning some breathing exercises can help make this a little easier.  

2) Plan and practice  

Stress can be reduced through confidence. Understanding what you’re doing or talking about takes away some of the fear of the unknown that can lead to stress.   

Whether you’re worrying about an interview or an exam, sit down and practice. It also helps to plan your time well to avoid a rush before a deadline.  

3) Mind mapping  

Once you start becoming more aware of your negative thoughts, it’s a good idea to try and find the root cause by writing them down.  

A mind map, where you draw connections between thoughts and ideas will help you work this out.   

4) Remember  

The final step is essentially to keep up this practice. Working on your stress levels is not a once and done type of activity.  

A healthy person consistently strives to improve their approach to the pressures in life without expecting them to go away entirely.   

Stress is a part of life, even if it’s not a particularly nice one. With that in mind, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself.   

Don’t get annoyed when you notice negative thoughts, for example. Instead, congratulate yourself for picking up on them and move on.  

While University can be stressful, it’s worth rephrasing the experience in your mind as challenging, exciting and filled with opportunity.   

However, if you do feel yourself needing a helping hand every now and then, we welcome you to come to speak with us.”   

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, please get in touch with the Health and Wellbeing team.     

Book your appointments through Compass, email them at londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk or call on 0207 531 7343 from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm       

Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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