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Surviving University Stress

Going to university is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your life, and it is only natural to feel a little nervous. This may be especially true for freshers, but returning students can also experience this anxiety too. Even third and fourth year students may find that they need a little extra support as final exams approach and dissertations loom. 

The Stress Management Society have provided their five top tips for staying on top of things and make settling back into your new routine that little bit easier. 

1. Homesickness 

Heading to university for the first time can be a real shock to the system. Life as you know it completely changes, so homesickness is only natural. If you are finding this change in routine overwhelming, then you're not alone. ‘How to survive homesickness at university’ has been googled more than a staggering16 million times! 
To combat homesickness, we recommended that you set a date to go home before you even set off for university. This will give you something to work towards and look forward to. Try not to go home during term time, especially if you are tempted to give up. It takes time to settle into any new environment and in a few months time, you will probably be taking your independent lifestyle in your stride. 

2. Get in to a sleeping routine 

Whilst the prospect of all those nights out during Freshers Week sounds exciting, don’t forget to rest and recharge too. It is recommended that you get at least 7-8 hours sleep every night.  Sleeping for 8 hours is said to lighten symptoms of anxiety, improve your general well-being and increase cognitive function and memory, so you'll feel more able to keep on top of your workload. 

To ensure a restful night's sleep, try and go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day to allow your body to get into a regular pattern. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola or eating too late in the evening. Using computers, tablets and smartphones in the evening has also been linked to poor sleep, so ditch the screen and do something relaxing like reading (not your text books!) or listening to music instead. Click here to see more tips to improve your restfulness routine.

3. Start building up your personal network 

Isolation is known to increase stress levels, so when you have moved away from your family and friends it is important to create a good support system and make new friends as early as possible. Joining some societies or groups will help you to meet like-minded people and take a much needed break from your studies, allowing you to maintain a healthy balance between work and fun.

4. Eat well  

Eating well is a great way to take care of yourself and improve your general well-being. Making sure you get enough Vitamin C and B12 is especially important. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and slow release carbohydrates such as whole grains, which will provide you with a steady supply of energy throughout the day.  Another important nutrient for students is omega 3 fatty acids which can improve mood and mental function. The best sources are oily fish such as mackerel and salmon but they can also be found in nuts and seeds.  
There is no doubt that for many students alcohol plays a large part in university life. But heavy drinking can add to negative feelings, and lectures with a hangover are never fun. Try to drink in moderation and keep some alcohol-free days every week. When you are out, try to alternate alcohol 
with soft drinks to slow your drinking down and avoid overindulging.

5. Get active

Being active will also make a big difference to how you feel. Consider joining a sports team to get some exercise at least once a week, and try walking to lectures whenever possible. Some people find that high impact exercises such as running help them to blow off steam, while others prefer gentle, relaxing activities like yoga. The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing as this will make it much easier to stick to. 

Any kind of exercise has a powerful effect on your mental health. It triggers the release of endorphins, your body's natural “feel good” hormones, and can help to reduce anxiety and elevate your mood.