Staying zen: 4 things to try

We all know that at various times through our life we will be subject to stress. Some of us feel this a lot more than others for various reasons, including pre-disposal to anxiety, a deep desire to succeed or a fear of failure... amongst a whole host of other things. This piece isn’t to tell you what is right for you, and if stress is really hampering your life, please do go and see a professional, a pastoral tutor, your GP, or even your parents or friends. Support is out there for you, so don’t feel alone.

I am lucky enough to work in a job which is very interesting and challenging, but it does come with its fair share of pressure and stresses, so here are a few suggestions for stress management which have helped me (or my colleagues) in the past. I hope some of these work for you!

1. Lists and organisation

A bit of a boring one, but it really can help you feel like you have control over your tasks and help you understand what you actually need to get done in the day. Start by writing a list of everything you need to do, then order and label it based on how long you think the tasks will take you. From there you can work out how long you need to get everything done.

If you have too many tasks for the day, don’t worry, just evaluate which ones can be delayed or moved back. Most people will be okay with moving tasks back, but do make sure that you either give them enough notice, or don’t try and move things like exam dates.

Finally, I like to start with one or two short tasks at the start of the day, then you can cross them off, which will help you feel that you are already achieving something, which will hopefully help you relax and get into the flow of working.

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2. Exercise

A commonly cited one, but for a good reason. A short, intense workout either at home or the gym can really help refresh your mind, relieve stress and help you focus again. Consider doing a short weights session or HIIT. Or even a run, then showering and coming back to your work. You should feel a bit more positive and energised to crack on.

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3. Swear!

Believe it or not, stress fking relieves physical pain (and stress)! However, don’t use this all the time, otherwise, the effects will become increasingly st. Research by Keele University has shown that infrequent and ‘meaningful’ swearing (e.g. where you are cursing due to genuine pain) can help reduce the effect of that pain and stress on your body. Why the f**k not eh?

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4. Meditation and mindfulness

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are plentiful according to various studies, but certainly include adding focus to your day, as well as reducing stress. When practised properly, even short periods of meditation or practised mindfulness can help quiet the noisy, worried thoughts in your head and bring order and calm to your psyche. There are various podcasts which can help you on the first steps of your mindfulness journey.

Also, consider healthy snacks and plenty of water. When your body is lacking in nutrients or you are dehydrated, that stress headache will just get worse. Avoid the temptation to binge eat the bad stuff... a sugar crash really won’t help you get through it. Promise.

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Best of luck with whatever is causing you stress, and I hope things are a little calmer for you if you decide to use any of these methods in your own life.

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