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Managing stress

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University is a tale of two sides. On one side: freshers, new friends, independence, eating out, unplanned lay-ins. On the other: deadlines, exams, bills, and changes at every turn. Balancing the two sides of university can be challenging and lead to an unhealthy level of stress. But don’t panic – here you’ll find top tips, activities and reading material to encourage a healthier and peaceful state of mind while you’re getting your degree.


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What is stress?

We've all experienced it, but how do we even begin to describe it? If you’re not too sure, The Stress-Free Guide to Studying at University and Coping with Stress at University break everything down for you, making it easy to understand what a student’s top stressors are and what you can do to manage your stress effectively.

Read a free chapter for advice on dealing with stressors at the beginning of your university journey.

Using your time wisely

Pulling an all-nighter the night before your deadline? We’ve all been there! Time management is a common problem for students, especially with distractions all around. Leaving things to the last minute can lead to a lot of stress, especially when you’re trying to meet a deadline or prep for a next-day exam. So, get ahead of the game and avoid those sleepless nights: take our procrastination test to see where you and your time management seem to go wrong.

Don't believe everything you think!

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe stress is a sign of personal failure. Stress is a normal reaction to new and challenging environments and, in these extracts, Clare Wilson, author of Manage Your Stress, shares expert advice on interrogating irrational beliefs and her top stress management tips.

Overcoming exam anxiety

Exams can spark fear in the most studious student. Before you panic, check out some useful tips on how to minimise stress levels before and during your exams.

Before your exam:

  • Plan in advance; decide how much time you’re going to spend reading the questions and planning the questions.
  • Make sure all your pens, pencils, and other stationary items are in good working order, and that you have spares in case something breaks.
  • If you have exam nerves, plan the rewards you’ll give yourself after the exam!

During your exam:

  • Read the instructions carefully, twice. Make sure you know how many questions to answer, and which ones are compulsory.
  • If you find exams a struggle, you can reward yourself during the exam by using positive imaging, or by self–praise. The idea is to associate doing the exam with positive, calming thoughts.
  • Plan your answer to each question, making sure you have at least something to say for each part of any multi-part question.

Check out our dedicated exam support page for more tips or take a look at some of our top-rated texts at the bottom.

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Thriving despite stress

Stress can affect you at any point in your life, but statistics show that greater levels of stress are quickly affecting younger people more, leading to physical and psychological problems such as anxiety or even depression. Kevin Hawkins, author of Mindful Teacher, Mindful Schoolhas practical advice on health and wellbeing in stressful environments.  

Spotlight on international and postgrad students

International and Postgrad students are often forgotten in the conversation about stress at university. It’s important to remember that they will be dealing with the same amount of stress as an average undergraduate student studying from the UK, plus stress from issues such as:

  • Work-life balance
  • Conflicting emotional demands
  • Feeling marginalised
  • Culture shock
  • Returning to education

We have some helpful books to make sure you’re fully prepared for life studying abroad and life studying after an undergraduate degree listed at the bottom of this page.


Want to learn more? We've got you covered. Get further resources to help you improve your physical and mental wellbeing.



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