This week (14th – 20th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme of this year’s campaign – which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is stress. And although stress itself isn’t a mental health problem, it is linked to our mental health because too much stress, for too long, can make us ill. If unaddressed, stress can cause mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which can lead to self-harm and suicide. Stress can also affect your physical health and cause problems such as cardiovascular disease and problems with your joints and muscles.
As a student, especially at this time of year when you’re trying to meet deadlines and revise for exams, you may feel stressed or overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself and try to reduce your stress levels where possible. There are a few things that you should avoid doing that will help to reduce the chances of becoming too stressed. Let’s take a closer look:
1. Watch what you eat and drink: Avoid overdoing it on foods and drinks high in sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Although these are a quick fix and can temporarily make you feel better, that buzz will soon ware off and can make you feel down afterwards, which can increase stress levels in the long term.
2. Don’t overdo it: Yes, exams are important and of course you want to do well, but it’s no good overworking yourself and staying up all night to meet deadlines or revise. We all need time to relax and unwind.
3. Ditch the devices: Don’t feel pressurised to always be doing something. It’s OK to have some down time. So, step away from your computer desk, put down your phone and switch off for a short while. After a break away from your screens, you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the revision, research and assignments again.
4. Avoid chasing perfection: We all want to do well, especially when we’re putting so much time into what we’re doing, but the reality is, mistakes do happen. So, don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong, just accept it and move on. Chasing perfection can create unrealistic expectations.
5. Don’t bottle up your feelings: If you’re feeling stressed about something, then speak to someone. Don’t keep things to yourself and assume it’s just a phase and they will go away, that can make things worse in the long run. It’s OK to ask for help and support, and sometimes, just sharing your feelings can make things a whole lot better.
If you are concerned about your stress levels, please pop to Reception and speak with our friendly team and we will be happy to help. You can also find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week here.