Feel Good Focus: Settling in and managing stress

Issue date: 07 September 2018

Settling in

Moving to university is a massive change and can feel pretty intense. Coming back for second or third year or starting postgraduate study can equally be nerve-wracking and stress can build up easily. The good news is there are loads of people here to help you.

We've combined some top tips to help you beat stress and have a positive first month here at UWE Bristol!

Be the one that breaks the ice

Introduce yourself and smile – whether it's your new flatmates, new classmates or other people at an activity. If you're a returning student, strike up a conversation to find out how people spent their summer holidays.

Food with your flatmates

New house rental? Freshers accommodation? Make or order food together. Everybody needs to eat and it's a perfect way to do something together and get to know who you're living with.

Plan your diary

There's loads going on - so get yourself a diary, a wall planner or use the calendar on your phone to make sure you've got all your key dates noted down. There's nothing worse than feeling unprepared - a diary could sort this.

Search for a society

There are hundreds of activities and events going on across our campuses and there really is something for everyone! The start of the new year is the perfect time to get involved and lots of clubs and societies will be running taster sessions.

Get involved

Check The Students' Union's website, the UWE Bristol Events diary and your course and halls Facebook groups so you know what's going on and can connect with other students online.

The Bristol buzz

There's so much going on across the city, as well as across the campus. Going to events, nights out, talks or just exploring the sights can be a great way to get comfortable in your city and enjoy where you live. Visit Bristol has loads of event listings.

Managing stress

It's important that stress is recognised and managed - so here's some coping strategies.

What is stress?

Stress is a reaction that our body goes through as a reaction to pressure from a situation or life event. When we experience stress our body produces stress hormones that initiate a flight or fight response. This response can be beneficial and push us through difficult situations; however, when stress occurs frequently or lasts a long time, it can become physically and emotionally damaging.

So, how can you manage stress?

  1. Recognise it. The first step in managing your stress levels is recognising when stress has become a problem. If you're struggling to sleep, it's affecting your daily mood or you can't see a way it will resolve then it's time to take some action to address it.
  2. Identify it. Try to make a list of things you're finding stressful. Even the act of writing them down can help.
  3. Think of strategies to help. Now it's time to think of coping mechanisms: what small practical things can you do on a day-to-day basis that will help you feel less stressed? This could be going for a walk in the evening, messaging a friend or sorting out your books ready for the next morning.
  4. Prioritise. Try and prioritise important tasks - falling behind with deadlines can make you feel more stressed.
  5. Talk to someone. There are lots of people on hand to help. You can speak to a Student Support Adviser (just contact an Information Point), go to the Student Advice Centre at The Students' Union, speak to your course leader or academic personal tutor or use our online counselling service.
  6. Exercise. Exercise is an important way to let out stress. Moderate physical activity has been proven to reduce stress and boost mood. Find something you enjoy and get moving!
  7. Eat well. Food can affect our mood and when stressed, we may turn to sugary foods which cause sugar highs and lows, contributing to mood swings which can make feelings of stress even worse. On the other hand, some people may eat less when stressed, leaving the body under-fuelled and exhausted. So work on which one you're prone to and then make sure you're eating well and having your five a day!
  8. Get a good night's sleep. Sleep problems are common during stressful times, but lack of sleep can make stress harder to deal with. There are several things you can do to improve your quality of sleep.
  9. Take time out. A great way to reduce stress is taking the time to relax and practise self-care. It could be chatting to friends or family on the phone, reading a good book or going to a yoga class - find what chills you out.
  10. Befriend stress. Why not take a look at this brilliant TED talk about how to channel stress.

Recipes of the month

Podcast of the month

Stress and the mind: full works by Dr David Peters.

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