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Do you feel like you are too stressed? That you are inadequate? Are you struggling to wind down and relax?
Here you can find information about stress, stress related problems and practical advice on how you can deal with stress and stressors in your life (stressor = what triggers stress).

At most times being a student is a positive, Bild av en kille som ska symbolisera stress.
stimulating and exciting experience. It is common for pressures and expectations to vary over time and they can thus be very intense at some time points, e.g. before an exam, during clinical placements, or close to an essay deadline. During times like these it is easy to feel stressed.

What is stress?

Anything between rushing and burnout syndrome can be considered stress. Too fast a pace or too high expectations is a common way to describe stress today. To have a lot to do in itself is not normally enough: it is when we are experiencing a decrease in opportunities to deal with or control the situation that we experience stress.

What is your stress level like right now?

Here you can test if you are stressed or check your current stress level. The questionnaire consists of 19 questions.

Health test: Stress levels

What does stress look like?

Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways in most of our inner organs and their functions. Below is a description of stress related issues:

  • Emotional reactions: worry, anxiety, low mood, tiredness, feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and sleep disturbances.
  • Intellectual functions: impaired concentration, difficulties with problem solving, making decisions, visualizing goals and organizing work. Lowered involvement and stamina.
  • Lowered immune function with increased susceptibility to infection.
  • Gastro-intestinal problems: increased formation of gas, intestinal noises, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and various levels of aches and pain. These symptoms can occur even if dietary habits are good.
  • Cardiovascular disease: palpitations, high blood pressure, heart attack. Increased risk for stroke. A negative effect on blood lipids.
  • Headache, in specific areas or more general. Migraine and tension headaches can be caused by stress and tension.
  • Skin rashes. Eczema and herpes infections usually appears at times of fatigue and stress.
  • Pains and discomfort in joints: neck and shoulder blade problems (stress can often lead to round shoulders, hunching, poor working posture and fewer breaks during work). Lumbar back pain and repetitive strain injuries.

How can I learn to de-stress?

We need to tackle stress by having realistic expectations for ourselves and ensuring we keep a healthy balance in our everyday lives between activity and rest. As a student there are no regular working hours and it is thus even more important to be aware of your work-rest balance. A good rule of thumb is to divide the 24-hour day into 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, and 8 hours of leisure time, which may cover many different areas of life. This can be difficult to maintain at certain time periods (e.g. before an exam). It is not dangerous to have a temporary higher workload during shorter periods of time. However, it is important to allow yourself to rest after a time of particular stress.

A student has defined study related stress like:

"...a constant load on the conscience, worry about failure and a feeling that more time should be spent studying - that all time is potential study time."

Anti-stress tips

  • Don’t ignore your feelings and what your body is trying to tell you; explore the information these contain.
  • Use your own needs and values as a starting point
  • Don’t compare yourself unfavorably to others.
  • Compare yourself to your own development and knowledge process.
  • Write lists and prioritise/plan.
  • Do one thing at the time and give it your undivided attention.
  • Nurture your relationships.

Mindfulness – to be present in the moment

Mindfulness can be an effective way of counteracting stress and to gain life balance. The main point is to attempt to bring your awareness to what is happening in the present moment and become more aware of oneself. You strive to accept the present to be able to consciously choose what to change.

How do you accomplish this? Rather than judging and evaluating, try to observe and explore thoughts, feelings and the sensations in your body.

The important breathing

Your breathing is the key to relaxation. That is why breathing is important in dealing with stress and in mindfulness practices.

Here are some breathing exercises:

  • Start by focusing on your nose and feel your breathing.
  • Count slowly to five whilst slowly inhaling through your nose with one long, deep breath.
  • Hold your breath and slowly count to five. Think or say to yourself:

... deep inhale
... deep inhale
... deep inhale
... deep inhale
... deep inhale

  • After approximately 5 seconds, slowly exhale through your nose whilst slowly counting to five.
  • Repeat the exercise ten times.

Read more about stress

Facts about stress
The Stress Research Institute

Student health