Managing Stress while Studying

All of us have experienced anxiety, stress or tension at some time or another. Many students suffer from stress at some time during their course. This is usually caused by feelings of not being able to cope with the workload or situation. Stress symptoms include physical emotional, mental and social manifestations.

The following are some of the many symptoms that might indicate that you are experiencing anxiety, stress or tension:

  • Exhaustion/getting tired very easily
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations/accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating or hot flushes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • Dry mouth or the urge to swallow repeatedly
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Intense apprehension & fearfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness, resulting from preoccupation with the problem
  • Restlessness
  • Trembling/Shaking
  • Short temperedness
  • Withdrawal from interpersonal/social interaction
  • Excessive smoking, sleeping and/or drinking
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Not feeling hungry or eating excessively

How to deal with stress related to your studies

It is not abnormal to feel some anxiety at times, in fact feelings of anxiety can help to motivate you. If, however, you feel that stress or anxiety is affecting your studies, a first option is to seek help, by contacting the Career Counsellor, via our Call Centre.

The aim of this section is to equip you with techniques, in order to maintain control when you feel that situations (i.e. studies), people and events place excessive demands on you.

  • Relax: Take deep breaths as this automatically slows down your breathing and creates a calming effect. Breathe deeply for several minutes.
  • Remove yourself from the stressful situation: Give yourself a break if only for a few minutes.
  • Prioritise: Try to prioritise a few truly important things and let the rest slide for now.
  • Realistic goals: Set realistic goals for yourself. Reduce the number of events going on in your life in order to reduce the feelings of overload.
  • Don't overwhelm yourself by fretting about your entire workload. Handle each task as it comes, or selectively deal with matters in some priority.
  • Think Positive Thoughts: Try to avoid continually thinking negative thoughts, such as, "I'll never be able to do this" or "It is too much work to get through". These are very destructive thoughts, and they can affect your confidence and your performance. Try to make a list of positive things, such as – "I can do it with a bit of hard work".
  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a great stress reliever because it channels physical and mental energy. Exercise also promotes deeper, more restful sleep.
  • Get enough sleep
  • Make a timetable if you are overloaded with work and do not have enough time. Identify what you can and can't do.
  • Ask your tutor for advice if you need to.
  • Hand something in. Some students delay getting down to assignments and then rush them and start to worry. Other students again, try to perfect one piece of work and then cannot complete other course work and start to worry. Then there are also the students who are so concerned that the work is no good that they cannot hand it in. To hand in an assignment will alleviate your worry, and the comments you receive back from your tutor will assist you in your next assignments.
  • Avoid self-medication or escape: Alcohol and drugs can mask stress. They don't help you to deal with the problems.

The best strategy for test/exam/study anxiety is to BE PREPARED!!! This alleviates stress because the more prepared you are the more confident you become.

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