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When the pressures of university exceed students’ ability to cope

Are the pressures of university getting you down? Source: Christian Erfurt/Unsplash

Today’s university students face many sources of stress and pressure that could negatively affect their academic performance. 

This could include the pressure to perform well academically while balancing their work and personal lives with the stress of living as frugally as possible to make each dollar stretch. Top it off with the anxiety of student debt and getting a job upon graduation, and it’s a simple recipe for a minor nervous breakdown. 

Unsurprisingly, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems on college campuses.

Some university students may be crumbling under the pressures of university and the desire to do well in every aspect of life, a fact not helped by social media, where they’re bombarded with perfectly-curated images of their peers’ lives. 

Be it scoring the best internship, going on a cool study trip abroad, holding several leadership positions in extracurricular activities, being on the dean’s list for consecutive semesters or having an active social life with friends, there are many things that cause students to constantly compare themselves to others, even when they know it’s unrealistic and unhealthy to do so.

So, how can students better deal with the pressures of university life?

Take care of yourself

Take the time to eat and nourish yourself properly. Source: Shutterstock

Are you losing sleep or skipping meals as a result of struggling to cope with your workload or managing your daily expenses? Failing to take care of your physical health can affect your thoughts and emotions, in addition to the way you deal with your problems, notes HelpGuide.

If you’re feeling stressed out from university life, take a breather and carve some time out of your schedule to engage in some exercise, even if it’s just a 15- to 20-minute walk.

“Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate,” notes the ADAA

Identify the source of your stress

Identify and take steps to resolve your primary source(s) of stress and pressure. Whether it’s money woes, exams or even relationship issues, the NHS notes that students can see if they can change their circumstances to ease the pressure they’re under.

For instance, if you need help with your studies, consider asking a friend or classmate for some help in tutoring you. Students with financial difficulties may want to think about taking a semester off to work and save some cash, enabling them to concentrate better on their studies once they’re more financially stable the following semester. 

This brings us to our next point… 

Accept that you can’t be a lone ranger

Making time to socialise with others will ease the pressures of university. Source: Shutterstock

No man – or woman – is an island, so don’t bottle things up. 

Before things get overwhelming, make it a habit to talk to your friends and family – even if it’s just once a week – to discuss the difficulties you’re facing. Their views will give you a different perspective on things while offloading your problems can immediately make you feel better and reduce your stress. 

You could also contact your university student well-being centre to seek assistance. They can offer general support, or point students in the right direction to obtain specific support for their problems. 

Incorporate things that can help you manage stress and pressure into your daily life

Sometimes, stress and pressure can manifest into physical symptoms such as gastritis and headaches. While making time to eat well, exercise and socialise with others is important when dealing with the pressures of university life, it’s also essential to find additional things that could put you in a positive frame of mind to tackle the challenges of each day.  

Be it meditation, starting your day by watching positive videos or even reducing your time scrolling through social media to take care of your mental health, find things that work for you and incorporate them into your daily life. This can serve you well not just in university, but beyond that, too.

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