There are many different causes of stress in university students. While everyone experiences stress differently, it has undoubtedly affected everyone at some point. 

Whether you experience stress as a roadblock in your learning, preventing you from mustering up motivation, or a constant stream of anxiety pushing you to work harder than your body can handle, it’s important to remember that there are ways students can best deal with stress.

Sonya Flessati has been a counsellor at Mount Royal University (MRU) for more than 20 years and has spent her whole career working with university students helping them manage their stress. 

“When people describe feeling really ‘stressed out,’ that’s when there are coping resources that you have, [and] everything you use to cope with these demands isn’t able to meet them. So your demands exceed the strategies you have to manage them,” said Flessati.

Stress tends to manifest both physically and mentally. Everyone is different when it comes to how stress presents itself, so whether you feel physically stressed, emotionally stressed or even both, there are ways to manage that.

Looking after your body

There are many ways to regulate stress that affect your body’s well-being. The first strategy Flessati said is exercise. According to Harvard Health Publications, “among those who exercise, 33 per-cent of high-stress adults said they feel less stressed after exercising.” 

Exercise can be anything from vigorous gym workout routines to yoga a couple of times a week. As long as your body is moving and your blood is flowing, your brain will be thanking you.

Nutrition also goes hand-in-hand with exercise when it comes to keeping your body healthy, eating a nutritious and protein-filled meal can fuel your brain, helping you to power through all those assignments. 

Most importantly, says Flessati, are the benefits of a good sleep. 

“Whether it’s a weekend or weekday, I make sure I’m committed to going to bed at a good time,” she said. “Your body and brain need to be well rested.” 

Looking after your mental well-being

Stress can often make students feel overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. One of the most important things to do to regulate your stress is to have outlets where you can express your feelings. This can include things like journaling, writing, poetry and art. 

Having connections with people who care about them can give students a different kind of outlet for talking and working through many mental health problems.. Even just knowing that there are people out there who care about you can help ease students’ mental turmoil. 

Flessati also mentioned the importance of connecting with yourself, checking in every so often and tuning into what your body needs. Students can do this through meditation and breathing exercises, which can be a calming way to reflect on exactly what your body needs. 

“It’s all about looking at [your body and mind’s demands] and what you can do to offset these demands to bring balance,” said Flessati. 

If you need further help managing your stress, the Wellness Services on the Mount Royal campus offers resources to help with your mental, physical and overall well-being.

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