Yesterday was the UK’s ‘National Stress Awareness Day’. As part of this, the ‘International Stress Management Association’ has produced some excellent resources to help combat stress that can be accessed using the following link:
Reading the material on this website led me to reflect on how much of the work I do as a GP, on a day-to-day level is, in part, attributable to stress. Stress is of course a normal and natural part of everyday life that is necessary for our survival. At its best, stress helps us to function and optimise our performance, e.g. during exams. At its worst, stress can be destructive, causing both mental health issues as well as physical symptoms.
The link below gives a 10 point plan to help ‘stress bust’. As a GP at Student health, I would recommend reading these whether you are currently stressed or not. Practising stress busting techniques as part of everyday living e.g. exercise and taking time out, will prepare you well if times become tough. http://www.isma.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Top-ten-stress-busting-tips1.pdf
The main problems that I see with stressed students often involve the following:
1. Lack of sleep habit/ structure leading to exhaustion, making stress all the more worse. Sleep issues are all consuming. Self-help advice (http://patient.info/health/insomnia-poor-sleep) may be all that you need, or else please consider talking to the professionals at Student Counselling Service or SHS.
2. Forgoing meals due to lack of time to eat/ prepare food or nausea associated with stress. Eating little and often will provide the brain and body with the much needed ‘fuel’ and usually combat associated nausea.
3. Stress leading to a sense of work becoming overwhelming so that it is impossible to consider prioritising. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/study/ provides a list of work-shops that might help students with study skills. Making a timetable of tasks can help a stressed individual establish clear goals. Please also remember that tutors will be able to help prioritise tasks if you are struggling.
4. More and more I am seeing how recreational drugs and too much alcohol are playing havoc with my patients’ mood and ability to tolerate stress. They also cause problems with sleep quality and are known to have a serious potential impact on mental health.
5. Not taking any breaks as there is too much work. Very few people can work all day and night and keep going. Regular breaks and natural stress busters such as a quick burst of physical activity and laughter can be a fantastic way to recharge your batteries.
Please consider looking at the National Stress Day resources and if you are concerned about your ability to manage your stress, remember that there are many people at the university who would be delighted to discuss this e.g. tutors, hall wardens, the SCS, the chaplain and Student Health Service.
Please see our website for links to related mental health resources and self-help material (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/links/useful-links/; http://www.bristol.ac.uk/student-counselling/ ; http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/services/mental-health/)