How to cope with student stress

Student stress is very real and can be difficult to overcome.

Once you’ve got past the early issues of managing money, paying bills, studying, living, and existing on a relatively human level, the stress associated with building the foundation of your life builds until it reaches a high point before and during your final exams.

This is made particularly difficult by the headlines that either call into question the sense of getting a degree in the first place, or tell you you can't succeed without one.


So how do you cope?

Pressure is good for you. Feeling the pressure to perform and excel is what motivates you to work hard and do your best. When there’s too much pressure, the pressure becomes stress, and that can have a negative impact on your life and the quality of work you produce.


The most common signs that the pressure has become stress are:

  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems

If left for too long, too much stress can lead to more complicated, longer term problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Unsettled stomach
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Depression

babylon therapist Jayne Cookson tells you everything you need to know about Anxiety on our Therapy page. Read more.


There’s lots you can do to cope with stress:

  • Work out what’s making you anxious and come up with a definitive plan of how to address your stress factors.
  • Work on your lifestyle. One of the most important lessons in life is how to work hard and look after yourself at the same time. Many people never get this balance right, and the key areas to work on are your diet, sleep, exercise, work, alcohol consumption, and social activities.
  • Don’t worry about the future too much. Here’s where it gets tricky: you need to worry enough to try, and not worry enough that your worrying causes you stress… if you work out how to do this, let us know!
  • If your work is piling up while you watch Netflix (or whatever you do to relax) and the anxiety of your work is getting worse with every episode, try completing tasks between episodes. One episode to one task, then one episode to two tasks, and so on. Working hard for long periods takes practice and training, and it’s not easy to just ‘do’.
  • Learn how to relax. Try breathing exercises and listen to calming music. Seriously, it helps. Also have a quiet ‘release’ activity you can do if you feel your brain getting too busy. The best release activities are art and craft based, so draw or stitch your way to calm.
  • If you’re having personal problems, talk to a friend, family member, or tutor about it. If your university has a counselling service, apply. If your university counselling service is over-subscribed (as they often are) babylon therapists are available in days and can talk to you straight from your phone.

If you would like to know how to incorporate exercise into your Netflix regime, read The Exercises You Can Do While Watching the TV.


Stress and Sleep:

Constantly staring at the blue-light of your computer screen can affect your sleep. The theory is that the blue LED lights used to view computer and phone screens blocks the sleep hormone Melatonin from being produced, meaning that it takes longer to fall asleep. The best way to maximise your chances of getting a good nights sleep is to sort out your sleep hygiene:

  • Don’t drink caffeine for at least four hours before you go to bed
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking before you go to bed
  • Aim to use thick blinds or curtains, or wear an eye mask if light from outside your room disturbs you
  • Wear earplugs if noise is a problem

For more information about how to optimise your sleep, see our blog; Dr. Raghoonanan’s Top 8 Sleep Tips