Written by Kelly Pyart.
All university students are affected by stress on a daily basis because of exams, deadlines, and various other reasons. So, why is it such a big issue?
Stress can cause a person to spiral out of control, lose all sense of rationale and sometimes incapacitate them from being themselves. In other cases, it can lead to further health issues if not dealt with correctly.
To raise awareness of this often misunderstood problem, The Linc spoke to Olivia Hill, the Vice-President of Welfare and Community for the Students’ Union.
Q: Why does stress build up at university?
Olivia: I think especially at university there is this thought that you want to do your best, but you do not have a free timetable, and so it gets quite hard to know what to do.
When you come to university there is no official end of the day like there is at school, so you don’t necessarily stop working, and I think this causes stress to build up.
This is normally because you have not given yourself the right amount of time to rest and the right amount of time to work.
Q: How important is it to raise the profile of stress and do you feel it is an underplayed issue?
Olivia: Yes, when you speak to people and you ask how they are and they reply, “Oh, I’m fine, I’m just really stressed!” It has almost become normal now for people to become stressed, and society has just accepted this.
It is also really important to highlight the fact that stress can lead to other health issues and mental health issues.
Q: Can you tell us about your personal experience of stress?
Olivia: It’s the typical story – third year with our dissertation looming. I didn’t know what I wanted to do it about, and I came back to university early to try and get everything sorted.
I actually think I worked myself up. For instance, I didn’t need to get stressed because I did have lots of time, but I just kept worrying about how I would have no time whatsoever.
My housemates and my tutors really helped me; however, I just needed to sit down and tell myself, “You have to get on with it, Olivia.”
When I did start getting on with it and making progress, I realised that actually I had been making it worse by being stressed and demotivating myself by saying I did not want to do the work.
Q: How did you deal with this stress?
Olivia: I wrote myself a checklist of everything I had to do for my dissertation. I had a box next to each thing, which I could tick to let myself know when that certain job had been done. And that was great because it showed me how far I had moved forward!
I also set out my time. So, I checked my timetable and when I was not in uni, I set time aside for some TLC or me time.
Q: What ways would you suggest other people should deal with stress?
Olivia: This is something I tell everybody to do – make sure you plan your time. So you allocate how much time you will spend doing work, how much time you spend socialising with friends, and how much time you use to do something nice. You need something to look forward to.
Maybe you need an outlet, so if you’re creative, set yourself time to be creative. It is so important to make sure you still have time for when you can do stuff you enjoy because it will actually make you work better.
Q: Why do you think it is so important to have what you call “your time?”
Olivia: It is so important! It allows you to recuperate, regather, bring all your thoughts together and to allow yourself to relax.
It is talked about a lot. One of the things they have been mentioning as part of National Stress Awareness Day is to find one thing that stresses you out and do one thing to positively change that.
If you need help with combating stress, always endeavour to share your state of mind with others so you are not close to breaking point. The Student Wellbeing Centre and the Health Centre offer some great support for those who need it.Tweet