Monday, 27 June 2016

Study Stress

As I begin university next week, I am starting to think about how I am going to cope with the stress of studying. Throughout high school and college I put enormous amounts of pressure on myself to do well and got very stressed and anxious, especially around exam time. 

Last time I went to uni, I did well however I was not happy as I simply had no life outside of studying and put far too much pressure on myself. My dream is to be a nurse however and I know that in order to become a nurse, I have no choice but to go to university. 

I think that I am in a much better head space this time to be attending university and as long as I keep believing I can do it, I will be ok. Afterall, studying is something I am very good at and as long as I keep a healthy balance in my life, I think I will actually really enjoy it!

I have started to take my anti-anxiety medication again as I think they really do help me to keep calm and believe they have the potential to make my uni experience a little easier. I dont think anyone should ever feel any shame in taking these types of medication, in fact I highly reccommend it if you find they make things a little easier.

I also found this interesting article online and plan to use the various strategies mentioned, to keep me happy and healthy. Perhaps you could apply these same strategies to things in your life that make you anxious abd stressed.

Studying is stressful. Whether you’re attending a high-tension medical program or pursuing an online course, devoting your time and energy to learning is a complex process. What’s more, studying can compete with work, family, and other activities for your limited amount of energy. You will inevitably have times when you worry because something major comes up, such as a research paper or a final exam.
Stress is an entirely natural process. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t studying well or that you’re unable to process your course material. There is a positive kind of stress, “eustress,” which can actually serve as motivation to continue working, but that is not the sort of stress that is concerning. Distress, the negative kind of stress, is what causes problems and can affect your academic performance. Fortunately, distresscan be controlled. Although the following tips cannot solve every tense moment, they will help minimize distress throughout your education.

Know the symptoms of stress

  • Know the difference between normal and harmful stress. Remember, stress is a normal response, particularly to unpleasant surprises, scary incidents, and similar moments. The problem arises when you experience very frequent acute episodes of stress, or when it becomes a chronic, ongoing thing.
  • Learn the toll that stress takes on your body. Frequent acute stress often shows itself with symptoms like recurring headaches, fatigue, insomnia or difficulty resting, and indigestion. Chronic stress often shows itself with grinding teeth, forgetfulness, overeating or excessive drinking, confusion, and other symptoms that may come to seem like the natural state of things. Stress also weakens the immune system, leading to frequent colds and infections. It leads to muscular tension and aches, hyperventilation, and heart arrhythmia.
If these symptoms describe what you have been feeling, admit it to yourself. The first step to handling your stress is recognizing it and admitting you need to deal with it.

First aid: What to do in the moment

You can begin to notice the symptoms of stress at any time. Even if you can handle what is on your plate right now, one small additional trivial thing can send you over the edge. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, use this advice to get an immediate handle on your stress levels.
  • Breathe deeply. This will reoxygenate your blood and help you take a few moments to step back from a stressful situation. Lie down or sit up straight and put a hand on your abdomen, just below the navel. Breathe in slowly through your nose until your lungs are full. Hold the breath for a moment before exhaling. Repeating this several times should get you calm enough to look at things more clearly.
  • Do something comforting. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Do you feel a headache coming on? Briefly changing scenery by walking to the water fountain or stepping out on the balcony will help you refocus. What’s more, by taking a clear step to make your situation better, however small it may be, you tell your body and brain that things are under control. Eat a healthy snack or drink water or tea rather than strong beverages or junk food.
  • Use breaks to optimize productivity. If your specific task is something you can put down for a short while, do so. When you’re stressed out, you often aren’t doing your best work anyway. Even with time-critical tasks such as exams, you will be better served by taking a minute to ease yourself than by working yourself to a grinding halt by trying to push through to the end.

The long term: Understand yourself and take control

Stress usually follows patterns and cycles. By observing yourself and learning those cycles, you gain valuable information you need to train yourself to handle stress better. After you’ve dealt with your immediate situation, use these tips to build your own stress management plan.
  • Look for your stress signs and stressors. You will find you have certain physical cues that tell you when you’re getting stressed, even if you don’t feel like you’re stressed. If a tense headache or a tightness in your shoulders are your cues, take those signs as a warning. Whatever you’re doing is stressing you, and you should calm yourself however you can. Watch for patterns to determine what academic subjects or tasks tend to bring on these symptoms.
  • Chunk tasks. Huge tasks can be broken down into many smaller parts, which are much easier to tackle individually. A 15-page paper becomes less terrifying when you see it as three pages per day, then five pages of editing per day. You will also feel more accomplished when you complete numerous small tasks, rather than making a tiny bit of progress on a large one.
  • Avoid procrastinating. Breaking up tasks won’t do you much good if you keep everything for the last minute. Resolve to spend a certain amount of time on your studies, and stick to that time. During that period, study and work on your class projects, and don’t be afraid to put them down afterwards. Studies show that regular, relaxed study helps you learn and recall more than last-minute cramming.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. You can and should keep up with your nonacademic responsibilities, but you aren’t under an obligation to help everyone who asks. You need time and mental space to study successfully; if this means skipping an event or turning down a request to work extra, you should feel free to do so.
  • Take care of your health. Stress is a physical reaction, and by building up your health, you’ll be able to handle it better. Be sure to eat regular nutritious meals with a minimum of junk food, especially when studying. If you don’t get regular exercise, start now. Although it seems counterintuitive, exercise will actually give you more energy. Also, reduce or quit your bad habits, such as smoking or staying up late, as these habits drain your energy and make studying an uphill battle.


  1. Hey Karly, this question is completely unrelated to you post so I apologise for that.
    I know that we are both living in Tasmania and that you spent time in the hospital when you were unwell, i was wondering what your experience with that was like and whether or not that experience helped you or not? If so, how? And what was it like being there?
    I ask these questions because unfortunately im not far off being admitted and am beginning to think that it is the only way that I might make good progress in recovery. I'm just abit worried about what it would be like and would appreciate your advice and input because you have been there.
    If you don't feel comfortable answering any of my questions then I completely understand.

    Also, goodluck with your studies, im sure that you will do well and be a fantastic nurse one day if you decide that is what you decide you want to do. I hope your well and look forward to your reply x x

    1. Hi there,
      Its really good to hear from you and I am more then happy to answer your questions!

      If I am completely honest, hospitalisation didnt help me that much however I was at a very early stage of my eating disorder so I didnt truly want to recover yet, which I can see that you do.

      If you are wanting your life to change but just cant quite manage to do what it takes to get well, then I really believe that hospitalisation would be extremely helpful. :)

      I was on a children's ward when I was admitted so our experience may be a little different but I am guessing similar treatment plans would be put in place.

      The doctors set a goal weight for me (which they didn't tell me), I had blind weigh-ins twise a week, me exercise was very limited and we had to complete all the food we were served in a certain time frame.

      Hospitalisation is hard but you may find it much easier then trying to recover at home as all the control is taken away for you. For example your anorexic voice cant beat you up as much for eating more, as its not your choice to do so.

      I hope that this has been helpful in some way and please feel free to ask me any more questions. Goodluck! :) xx

    2. Thankyou for your reply, i would be put in the psych ward im pretty sure.
      I guess I will just have to see what happens xx

  2. Wow Karly, that is a huge achievement going to university! You should be so proud of yourself. I know you'll make a wonderful nurse! Keep thriving, it's wonderful to see! Xoxo

    1. Thanks so much Annie! Its a big step but I know I can do it! I hope your doing ok Annie <3 xxx