Coping with stress at university

Struggling with the pressures of uni life? Feeling worn out? Find out where to get help and how to look after yourself, says Clinton Bell.

Going to university can be fun, but it can also be difficult at times. There are a lot of demands on your time, particularly as end-of-semester exams and other assessments approach. You may also face challenges like financial difficulties, living away from home for the first time, or even living in a new country! It’s understandable if you sometimes feel overwhelmed.

The most important thing to know is that you can get help if you need to. Of course you can always turn to your family and friends, but Monash also offers a range of student support services. These include free counselling sessions and specialist services for Indigenous students, international students, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQ students. In an emergency, there are also 24-hour mental health hotlines available.

It’s also important to look after yourself. Make sure you eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and spend some time outdoors, and you’ll feel a lot better. If you feel like you can’t pass or get a good mark without giving up those things to make more time for study, it may be a sign that you’re not studying effectively. Get some advice from our helpful Library staff, try some of our online guides and tutorials, or speak to your tutor or lecturer.

Another thing that can help is keeping a schedule and planning time for study, breaks and other activities in advance. Having a plan can make it feel like things are more under control, and having all your tasks and important dates in one place means you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. Setting time aside for leisure and social activities in advance can also prevent you feeling guilty for taking time away from study.

Meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can also help you cope. There are some resources for mindfulness and mental health on the Monash student support website, and you can find more in the library using Search. It’s not just books, either - we also have CDs, DVDs, and online video and audio streaming (after you search, try selecting “Audio-visual” under “Resource type” on the left). Monash has also produced a free online mindfulness course in partnership with FutureLearn which starts this week!

Finally, if you drink a lot of coffee or energy drinks, you may want to reduce your intake. A moderate amount of caffeine is fine, but too much can cause anxiety, headaches and nausea. The Victorian government suggests keeping caffeine intake below 400mg a day for an average adult, which is about four cups of coffee or four 250ml cans of energy drink (check the label - some brands have more caffeine than others).

Good luck on your assessments and remember - help is available if you need it.

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