Mental or emotional pressure or tension caused by adverse or straining circumstances.
“They’ve put him under a great deal of stress.“
Despite what you might think, stress in small doses can be a good thing. Being under pressure can give you that extra push that you need to get things done. After all, it’s your body’s natural response to a distressing situation. Micro-doses of stress allow you to be more alert and motivated.
However, the problem comes in when that dose of stress spikes. Then we see the negative side of strain, as an increase in stress levels can hinder your ability to perform at your peak potential.
A study published in the Journal of American College Health found that 12% of South Africa’s university students experience symptoms of depression and 15% reported symptoms of anxiety.
Taking the necessary steps to de-stress will increase your productivity, help you absorb the information you take in and, in extreme cases, it will prevent you from being completely overwhelmed by the stress.
Prioritise Your Time
Prioritising your time, subjects and workload will help reduce your stress levels, as you will be able to ensure that you have covered what is most important – at the right time!
If you have more than one test or assessment, draw up a list of these according to their dates and add all the content that should be covered for each. This will give you a clear indication of how much time you need to dedicate to each topic and when to revise. This also prevents you from encountering any nasty surprises on the big day.
Once you have completed a task or covered a topic, tick it off your list. This will give you that sense of achievement and will motivate you to accomplish more!
Make A Revision Timetable
Creating a revision schedule and writing a to-do list will ensure that you are prepared and on track. This way, you will be guaranteed to cover everything on time.
Having a routine will also help you feel in control, keeping the stress levels at bay.
Note: Factor in breaks! We recommend a 10 to 15-minute break every hour during your studies to refresh your mind.
Every student, to some degree or another, has crammed for a test or an exam. This is the sometimes all-to-familiar process of leaving things to the last minute, followed by working intensively over a short period of time just before a deadline or exam. Cramming may lead to impaired mental function and inconsistent performance.
You can tackle this by keeping up with your coursework and reading as often as advised. You can also skim through the coursework as it gives you a general idea of what material is covered.
Know Your Learning Style
Everybody has a unique way of retaining information. First coined by psychologists and teaching specialists, a “VAK learning style” is based on three main sensory receptors. These learning styles take a look at channels by which human expression can take place and are composed of a combination of perception and memory.
Visual learners respond more to images and graphics.
Auditory learners prefer verbal presentation.
Kinesthetic learners prefer a physical, more hands-on approach.
Have a Healthy Snack Attack!
You might have heard of ‘brain food’. It turns out there’s stress-severing sustenance too. Certain foods help to reduce the severity of your anxiety symptoms. At the top of the leaderboard, we have:
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which may assist in anxiety relief by promoting brain health.
Chamomile has been shown to help with anxiety reduction due to its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Dark chocolate may be helpful for improving anxiety due to its stress-reducing antioxidants and ability to increase serotonin levels.
Yoghurt contains probiotics, which may have a positive effect on brain health and anxiety levels.
Get Enough Sleep
Students often have packed schedules, which leads to sleep deprivation. Because sleep directly impacts productivity, a lack of slumber has adverse effects on efficiency. Sleep deprivation also causes poor memory, lack of alertness and an overload of knowledge.
Stress and sleep have a 2-way relationship. Increased stress levels may make it more difficult to sleep. Simultaneously, a good night’s rest will reduce the effects of stress.
According to Dr Raymonde Jean, associate director of critical care at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City:
“When you are tired, you are less patient and easily agitated which can increase stress. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Practising good sleep hygiene along with stress-lowering tactics can help improve your quality of sleep”.