Blog post

Stress Awareness Month:
Ways to keep calm as a student

From managing work, caring responsibilities, and preparing and thinking about our future alongside our exams and coursework deadlines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a student. This blog will help you assess your stress levels, understand the importance of managing stress and provide you with techniques to keep calm.

By Olivia Wilkinson - 13 April 2023

Last updated - 25 April 2024

So, what exactly is stress?

Stress is a natural coping mechanism to help us tackle challenging situations. In small amounts, stress can be good by helping to push us to do our best work.

Why is it important to manage?

If you’re overstressed or find it challenging to manage your stress, this can lead to health problems and negatively impact your academic performance.

Signs that you might be stressed

The first step to managing stress is recognising it. So, take a moment to check in with yourself and see how you're feeling. 

With stress you may feel:

You may begin:

A woman in an office environment overwhelmed by requests

How I manage my stress:

Time management

Reducing stress means having a balanced life, including time for FUN, relationships, relaxation and work/study.

Plan your time efficiently to help keep track of your work and deadlines. A great way of doing this is to have a physical or digital diary to schedule time for your extra-curricular activities alongside your work/study to create a balanced lifestyle.

Don’t forget to have time for self-care alongside incorporating breaks!

My self-care involves spending time and planning activities with my girlfriend, friends and family, watching films, listening to music and pampering myself!

A journal and post-it notes

Find your stresses

Can you establish what’s making you feel stressed? By finding the root cause of your stresses, such as exams or money problems, you can seek the right help or establish a plan, such as a study schedule or financial planner, to help reduce your pressures.

Healthy lifestyle

Try to develop a healthy lifestyle. Make time to get enough sleep, eat well, and be physically active, incorporating relaxation into your routine and your work and study.

Although you may feel you don’t have time for exercise or sleep with deadlines approaching, missing this can heighten your stress and reduce your memory and problem-solving skills.

I’ve recently returned to the gym even though I didn’t feel I had enough time to manage this with my busy schedule. However, going to the gym only takes an hour out of my day, ensuring I have breaks and has meant I feel better! 

Someone happily using a gym treadmill

Don’t compare yourself to others

Try not to worry about the future. At university, you can feel overwhelmed as you have lots to think about, including what to do after you graduate. Why not speak to a member of our careers and employability team who offers services and support. Do you have course-related worries? Why not talk to your PAT, a tutor or a module leader about your concerns to help reassure you!

We are all on different journeys, have different ways of doing things and have other lives. Try not to compare yourself to someone else and focus on your hard work and achievements.

Try relaxation techniques

Why not practice relaxation and breathing exercises? These are recommended to help reduce stress as copying a simple breathing pattern allows the nervous system, which controls the body’s involuntary functions, to slow down.

My favourite technique is the 7/11 breathing pattern, where you breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11.

Plenty of alternate options are available, including self-care podcasts and YouTube mindfulness videos to help you relax. Why not incorporate this into your routine or when you next feel stressed?

Holding a meditative pose

Talk to someone

Remember, it's okay to ask for help if you need it. Try to talk to a friend, family or tutor about your stress.

The University of Derby offers a range of wellbeing support services, so If you do find that you're struggling and need support, don't forget that you can always contact the Student Wellbeing team by phone: 01332 59300 or email: Let's work together to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing, not just this month but all year round.

Two people in a counselling scenario

About the author

Olivia Wilkinson at graduation

Olivia Wilkinson
Graduate Marketing and Communications Associate

Recent graduate with a first-class degree in Marketing (PR and Advertising). Former ladies' football team player, Communications Ambassador, Social Media Assistant and DRIVEN intern. Now working as a Graduate Marketing and Communications Associate at the university.