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Say "goodbye" to academic stress!

A short presentation aimed at students on how to reduce academic stress

Dave Wilson

on 7 March 2018

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Transcript of Say "goodbye" to academic stress!


Not clear about what you need to do to meet the assignment brief?
Don't know where to start?
Struggling with academic skills eg critical analysis, research or referencing
Finding it difficult to get organised?
Not enough time in the day?
Do you procrastinate and leave it to the last minute?
Do life's difficulties get in the way?

What is anxiety and where does it come from?
Jumping to conclusions
Mental Filter
Tension in head and neck
Feeling dizzy
Heart racing
Over or under eating
Avoiding doing things you would like to do
Overworking or underworking
Being difficult to live with
Finding it hard to relax
Sleep problems
Increased comfort eating or under-eating
Using alcohol and/or drugs to cope
Try to avoid the following...

High amounts of caffeine and alcohol (you may feel it helps but it doesn't)
Food or drink high in sugar to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar levels which can aggravate anxiety.
Highly processed foods that are quick to make, might seem like they save you time, but they are unlikely to sustain you as they do not have the right amount of complex carbohydrates
Try to increase the following food types:

Fresh fruit and vegetables
Foods natural in complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, pasta and rice, nuts, seeds and pulses
Omega 3 - a key nutrient for brain health found in small fish. If you're vegan/veggie go for flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts
B vitamins to help release energy and balance moods. Found in wholemeal grains, vegetables, beans, pulses and lean meat/fish. If vegan/veggie consider taking a Vit B complex supplement
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with water ideally or natural fruit juices
What other ways can you tackle anxiety?
What You Eat Can Genuinely Make A Difference...
You don't have to be super-fit or do super-strenuous exercise to get the physical and mental benefits
Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can also boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better.
When we are in a state of anxiety,
our sleep can be adversely affected.
Academic work can be stressful
The University Psychological Wellbeing Service:
Is free and Confidential and we can help with all kinds of emotional states - low mood, anxiety, worry, etc. plus lots of other concerns you may have
We all need regular sleep!
It's easy when you are a student to over sleep or under sleep!
Yummy! Nom! Nom!
If you have a smart phone with
a QR Code Reader, have it on standby!
Routine is essential
Only try to sleep when sleepy
Get up and try again
Bed is for sleeping
Have a ritual to wind down
No naps
Avoid clock watching
Catastrophising: means anticipating disaster as the only outcome, always assuming the worst. Anyone with this outlook would be anxious.
Jumping to Conclusions: This happens when we don't weigh up the facts before we make up our minds- we simply respond to a gut feeling.
Mental Filter: positives and reassuring facts and events are mentally filtered out. You may not notice compliments, recognise your strengths or acknowledge achievements. A whole spectrum of positive may be ignored whilst a single negative details is dwelled upon.
False-permanence: Thinking things are more permanent than they really are. Not forgiving self for mistakes – "I’ll never live this down." Failing to remember that negative situations will let up or ever get better.
Selective Attention or Mental Filter: Minimising positives and focusing instead on perceived negatives. “The ‘first’ on that essay means nothing. That particular lecturer always marks high.” “I handled that situation dreadfully. It was an utter disaster.”
Self-Care Strategies can help...

Think of self-care as a way of survival- a necessity NOT an indulgence.
Be a friend to yourself with caring and compassionate inner voice NOT a critical, harsh voice
Use Mindfulness techniques
Learn how to relax
Learn some breathing exercises
Do things that you find self-soothing
Plan things to look forward to in the short, medium and long term

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to help with anxiety!

One of the many techniques is to challenge unhelpful thinking styles by looking for evidence
the thought you have about yourself!

What actual evidence do I have that my unhelpful thoughts are true?
Is there any actual evidence that contradicts the unhelpful thoughts?
What facts or details might I have ignored or overlooked?
What would you say to a friend who had these unhelpful thoughts?
Is there any other way of looking at this situation?
What is the balanced view of this situation?

How can you challenge unhelpful thinking styles?
Thinking about the "Perfectionism" aka "All or Nothing" as an example. A typical thing you might hear a perfectionist say is, "Nothing is working for me" Let's think about the evidence for and against that statement!
Some common unhelpful thinking styles include...

Jumping to conclusions
Mental Filter
With that lack of evidence, if it was a court of law, the case would be thrown out!
If anxiety attacks you in the exam and you can’t fight it off easily, practice the following in advance
and use it in the exam:
1. Stop.
2. Feel both feet firmly on the ground.
3. Close your eyes if you like.
4. Relax shoulders and arms, jaw and cheeks.
5. Count a few deep breaths out.
6. Calm for one minute.
7. Think of your name, write it down and then slowly return to the task.
Your thinking will come when you make friends with the task. Remember that leaving the exam
room is pointless. It’s just a feeling of wanting to take flight, which will pass. After the exam there is no need for post mortems, go for a meal out and have fun!
On the day before each exam, check the venue, know exactly where it is, pack your bag with all the bits and bobs that you’ll need including your Student ID card, home keys, pens,
calculator, money, food, water and anything else you might need.
It’s worth putting in the effort to being prepared. Arrive early and spend
time away from others - And then Good Luck.
We all experience anxiety when we feel stressed, overwhelmed or threatened by the context of our lives.
Feeling anxious is a normal part of our existence and an evolutionary response to threat.
Anxiety can motivate us and enhance our performance but sometimes this feeling becomes so intense that it becomes difficult to live our lives in the way we would wish

Life stresses, personality type, genes, our family and the way we think and cope with difficulties are all factors in terms of how we are affected individually by anxiety.
Don't over analyse the exam 'post-mortem'. It doesn't matter what you wrote for Question 4(c). It's too late to go back and change your answers, so it will just make you worry even more and it will get you in to a negative pattern for future exams.
Let's look at how anxiety might affect us in relation to academic stress?

Good Sleep Tips

Take Stock of Your Resources...

Family and friends
Peer support - formal or informal
Support from academic staff
Academic Study Support
Support from the Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
Support from the Chaplaincy
Support from the Students' Union
Support from the Disability Service. You can contact the service to discuss your support needs.
Self-help books and resources
GP and other Health Professionals
How to Tackle Anxiety?
d to
Managing Exam Anxiety
Before the Exam...

Don't bottle it up- open up about any worries or concerns
Seek support early if you need to from Student Services
Prepare by learning some exercises to calm yourself during the exam
Get that organised feeling- starting early is key
Break down your work into manageable chunks by topic
Create realistic targets for yourself and you're more likely to achieve them
Give yourself a break and keep it in perspective.
Look after yourself- eat well, hydrate and wind down to prepare for sleep
Balance it out by doing something you enjoy
Get prepared the day before to avoid last minute panic
If your anxiety escalates during an exam...

Feel both feet on the floor
Close your eyes
Relax your shoulders, arms, your jaw and cheeks
Count a few deep breaths in and out
Think of your name, write it down and then slowly return to the task
Avoid post mortems after the exam
Go out and have fun afterwards

For reflection...

Be aware that you're not alone in experiencing academic anxiety
Get to know your anxieties and how you might use available resources more effectively
Learn to challenge your unhelpful thought patterns to allow you to see a more realistic perspective
Review what lifestyle changes you can make to help you build resilience to better cope with stressful events or situations
Being more present in your life helps to support positive mental health and wellbeing

If you want to know more...

Read 'Overcoming Anxiety' by Helen Kennerley- available in the library

Check out these useful websites...

How To Manage Worry

Try to identify what you are worrying about - is it a hypothetical situation or a current problem? Ask yourself 'Can I do something about this?'

If you can, use problem solving skills to tackle it. Identify the problem specifically, come up with a list of possible solutions, do pros and cons on each solution before selecting the best solution, break down the solution into smaller steps to make it more manageable to follow through.

If the problem is unsolvable you will need to be tough to manage it. You cannot simply stop worrying as you cannot control the thoughts that come into your head. With practice you can learn to let these worries go.

However, you can adopt a different approach and learn to postpone worry.

It’s ok to ‘park’ unsolvable problems until the time comes when you are able to solve them.

Thanks for listening!

Here are our contact details for those who might like to get in touch...

Sarah Meehan
Mental Health Case Worker
01524 384669

Lorrie Coupland
Mental Health Case Worker
01228 616234
Full transcript