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What is stress, and what causes it?

During your studies, you are exposed to a lot of pressure. At regular intervals, you must pass tests and exams to progress. The stresses you are exposed to during your studies last a long time, and this can be exacerbated by the fact that you often make great demands on yourself.

Stress that we don’t get rid of and that persists, can go from having a stimulating and activating effect to becoming stressful. One can develop strong tensions and get into self-reinforcing negative circles, with a growing feeling of being in arrears, not being able to do enough, and being in a hurry.

We are different when it comes to coping with stress. Something that is burdensome for some, can be easy and unproblematic for others.

How to handle stress

Compare yourself to yourself, not others

As a student it’s natural to experience situations where you are compared to others. Even though this is a part of the assessment at a University, it’s important to reflect on whether you also want to compare yourself to others.

You have your own prerequisites that set the framework for your performance. In competition with others, your emergency preparedness will be on. Your body will see the situation as dangerous, and sharpen all your senses so you can perform better. The problem occurs when this is extended over time. Therefore to lower your stress level it’s better to compare yourself to yourself.

To most people, it can be useful to focus on feeling grateful for what you have and who you are. Through increased satisfaction with your life and yourself, the stress hormones will take a break, and you’ll feel more relaxed. A specific example is to have an own "thankfulness diary" where each night you can write down something you appreciate about yourself or your surroundings. This can be extra important on the days you find it the most difficult to write something down because those are the days you might need it the most. Eventually, you get a nice collection of experiences and qualities you can remind yourself of, to draw attention away from what you don’t have, and who you’re not.

Physical nearness

Physical nearness can help reduce stress for a lot of people. A hug, stroking a pet, or even a warm glance, increases the level of "the well-being hormone" oxytocin in your body. This helps lower your blood pressure and gives you a feeling of belonging. This is the way that for example, a hug can lower your stress levels for a while. Both the one who touches, and the one being touched, releases oxytocin, so this is a win-win situation.

Movement

When you’re feeling tired and stressed, the need to rest can be big. Simultaneously the feeling of unease and tension can make relaxing practically impossible. Moving your body and working out will help you loosen up tensions, and let the body use its stress hormones for something useful. After the workout, the body will be better suited for resting, and you’ll notice that both your mind and your body calms down.

Natural relaxation routines

It’s natural that we multiple times a day become absent and inattentive. These are natural trance-states we can take care of and expand. Allow yourself to feel and stretch your body after "falling out" like this, give your body some rest to loosen up stresses and tensions.

Mindfullness

Mindfullness, or attentive presence, is also a way of coping with stress. It’s all about accepting life as it is and bringing your attention to this very moment. Dwelling over past events, things that have gone wrong, or things we miss, creates stress. This also includes worrying about the future.

Through mindfulness, you get to practice bringing your attention to what is happening right now. You learn to have a friendly, none-judging attitude to things you experience. Mindfulness is a form of meditation, where being attentive of your breathing, your body, or your movements, from moment to moment, eventually will help you deal with stressful situations in a more calm and controlled way.

Ask for and receive help when it’s needed

There are a lot of things you can do to take good care of yourself, but if you feel like there is too much adversity, know that there is help available. Some students are facing harder troubles in life than what we have described above. However, we hope that most students find something useful here. But what if you feel like you need something more?

The aim for your time as a student is as previously stated "to be independent", but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything all by yourself. Being independent also means cooperating with others, and daring to ask for help. Here we have put together a list over other help offers. There are a lot of people who can help you, and SiS Health wants to be there for you as a student.

We are here for you if you need it, and we wish you the best of luck with your studies.