A Student Guide to Beating StressPosted on 25 August, 2017 by Graham All Posts
Being a student can be very stressful. You’ve moved away from your support network, taken on new responsibilities and gone into an exciting, independent lifestyle that can take it’s toll. There has been a ‘rapid increase’ in requests for counselling from students. Universities have reported that students feel under more pressure, perhaps due to the higher costs of education and a more insecure job market.
Meditation for Stress
The idea of meditation can seem a little intimidating or silly. But in it’s most simple form it involves stillness and silence. It can be a spiritual practice or a relaxation tool.
The practice has gone mainstream, joining yoga and pilates in going from alternative to commonplace. Google offers a dozen meditation courses to its employees, and an expert recently briefed the British Parliament on the benefits of mindfulness. Virgin Atlantic and Delta have offered meditation programmes on their flights to calm passengers. The practice has even been shown to improve student grades.
- Headspace is a free meditation app that many find very useful.
- There are (legally) free videos on Youtube that can guide you through the process.
- Try books from your library or local book shop.
- Your local Buddhist centre may well offer affordable classes.
- This site encouraging mindfulness for students.
Beat Stress With Diet
The food you eat can have a profound effect on stress. This can include foods that are good for beating anxiety and helpful to health - but also how you approach food.
The diet industry can frame food in a very unhelpful way. It can be stressful and dangerous to approach food from the point of view of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Especially when there is so much contradictory advice out there. (You can find ‘evidence’ that red wine is better for you than fresh fruit if you look hard enough).
Skip the fads and latest ‘it’ food. There are pseudoscientific sites out there that will encourage you to spend ridiculous amounts of money on vanilla mushroom powder and acai berries. They wax lyrical about cleanses and ‘detox’ plans, and encourage you to avoid gluten. Thing is, they’re nonsense. Cleanses and detoxes mostly just upset your stomach. And unless a doctor has diagnosed you with Coeliac disease, you’re most likely fine with gluten.
Listening to these charlatans is likely to do nothing but add to your stress levels and empty your wallet.
Modern day stress is what happens when the natural fear of man eating tigers is redirected. The urge to flight or fight now kicks in when you're worried about some coursework. Or an uncomfortable social situation, or whether you have the right shoes. The last two are facetious, but university is a social powder keg. And biologically we are hardwired to want to fit in. Because on the frozen steppe that could be the difference between life and death.
Exercise is a great way to alleviate that stress by running out the cortisol. It releases endorphins and gets the blood pumping. Even if you you do is take the stairs, or do the supermarket run on your bike, or walk your neighbour’s dog - it all helps.
Poor housing costs the NHS more than £600m a year and can have a devastating impact on residents' health. A utilitarian room can reduce your calm; as can having no privacy. Simple touches, such as a place being clean, cosy and freshly painted, can have a huge impact on wellbeing.
Students who get entangled in dodgy lets can have to endure mould, vermin and poor ventilation. And frequently have problems getting landlords to fulfil their responsibilities. This makes it even more important to enter into a contract with a responsible lettings agency like Mighty Student Living - one with good reviews and a proven reputation.