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'Stressed out? Don't ignore it. And remember, you're not alone'

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In his first blog, child branch student editor Gary Williams talks about how to recognise the signs of stress why we must ask for help whenever we need it.

Congratulations! You’ve gone up against thousands of other potential students and been chosen to do what you’ve likely wanted to do for years. Unfortunately, Freshers’ Week has come to an end but the excitement of lectures and work has started. It feels great, right? Or does it?

“No matter your age or previous experience, choosing to become a student is a big commitment that has its own rewards and challenges”

No matter your age or previous experience, choosing to become a student is a big commitment that has its own rewards and challenges. For many this will be your only experience of living away from home; for others the first time juggling learning with family and financial commitments; but for all it will be the first time you are wholly responsible for your own learning and progression.

As your year begins, and to some extent when it ends too, you will feel trepidation at what lies ahead; will I fit in? Can I cope on my own? What happens next? This pressure can be useful and helps to motivate us to complete our work and keep ourselves sharp. However, you need to be able to realise when pressure simply becomes too much. In March 2016 Dr Paul Blenkiron, an NHS Psychologist, told Prospects how to identify the common symptoms of stress:

  • Physical reactions, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, headaches, butterflies, going to the toilet and over-breathing (which causes dizziness and tingling in the fingertips and around the mouth);
  • Psychological reactions, such as fear, panic and the feeling that something bad is going to happen;
  • Behavioural reactions, such as avoiding or escaping from the situation, and turning to alcohol or drugs.

“Societies are a fantastic way to make new friends with the same interests as you”

Thankfully, there is a world of help out there waiting for you to get in touch and there most certainly are things you can do. Plan your time and don’t leave everything to the last minute. Exercise to release endorphins and relax. Societies are a fantastic way to make new friends with the same interests as you. Your university and students’ union have an enormous wealth of information and support available for you. Use your mentors; they’ve been exactly where you are today and understand more than you may think.

I have been experiencing feelings of stress myself recently, not due to returning to university after the summer break, but because I have a new placement starting next week with its own associated rules, processes and skills I will need to learn.

“If you do need help, then ask for it”

Yes, anything new is difficult but - and I am telling myself this as much as anyone - please don’t stress too much. Make it your aim to enjoy it and have fun. The next few months will be a steep learning curve; yes, you will worry about what it will entail and what you will have to deal with on placement, but if you put coping strategies in place now in the future you will be able to wind down and relax with more ease.

And if you do need help, then ask for it. You can do this - after all you are one of the chosen few, the best of the best in your university’s eyes and, in my experience, the first 12 months will fly by and you’ll be a second-year in no time. Your first placements will teach you more than you can imagine and university life is far less scary than it first appears.

If you do need help or support here are a few organisations that can assist you or anyone you may know who is experiencing difficulty:


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