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The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Stress

We experience stress when an event or situation causes us to feel under threat or that everything is overwhelming. Stress affects feelings, thoughts, actions and how the body functions.

Stress is not an illness but it may become a trigger for anxiety and associated depression.

Our bodies and minds respond all the time to the demands that are made on them. Some reactions are mental, some emotional, and some physical. Most of the time we cope well enough with the everyday demands and pressures of life. But when the intensity and frequency of demands and pressures increase so much that we find it hard to function normally, that is stress.

Stress is not an illness, but it has recognised symptoms:

  • Feeling irritable or short tempered, snapping at friends
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Worrying a lot and finding it difficult to relax
  • Having frequent thoughts about how stressed you are 
  • Feeling pain or tension in your body
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Tearfulness
  • Stomach or skin problems
  • Restlessness

The amount of pressure one can tolerate differs from person to person. As a student, you may be vulnerable to stress due to the pressure to perform well in exams, money problems, difficulty adjusting to life at University, or the prospect of leaving.

If you are experiencing signs of stress, you should consider talking to someone. Enabling Services advisors are available to help.

First, you might like to try this stress test.

Next, consider some of these frequent causes of stress and think about whether they apply in your own situation, and whether you can remove or reduce any of them:

  • Poor diet
  • Too much caffeine
  • Too much alcohol and/or smoking
  • Physical or psychological illness, or caring for another person who is ill
  • Exam and assignment deadlines
  • Excessive time pressure
  • Relationship issues
  • Money problems
  • Adjusting to a new situation
  • Poor environment: e.g. too noisy
  • Not enough relaxation time
  • Unbalanced social life – being either alone or in company too much
  • Bullying or discrimination

Preventing stress

There are many things you can do, but no instant fixes. You may need to make lifestyle changes.

The NHS offers excellent guidance on stress and how to combat it, and we recommend that you explore their web pages and follow the advice you find there.

Exercise is known to relieve stress. The University’s Sport and Wellbeing team run a wide range of facilities and activities in and around Southampton.

Learn more about wellbeing and how to counter stress and develop resilience. Enabling Services run workshops and courses on topics such as relaxation and mindfulness.

If exam stress is the main problem, find out more from the page on that topic.

If you have tried the self-help advice available through this and other web pages but stress is still affecting you badly, Enabling Services can help. You may wish to contact us or come to a drop-in session for a chat with an advisor who will help you decide on the best course of action.

Online Courses

Lynda.com

Below is a selection of courses from Lynda.com that provide information about stress and stress management techniques. Lynda.com is an online library that has a range of courses delivered through high-quality instructional videos taught by recognized experts. All students and staff at the University of Southampton have full, free, unlimited access to all the online tutorials in the library.

Managing Stress (click here to access course in a new window)

Learn tips to manage your stress, including identifying your triggers, managing responses, and making positive personal choices.

Mindfulness (click here to access course in a new window)

Practicing mindfulness improves your focus, resilience, and decision making. In addition to mindfulness meditation, this course features a series of mindfulness techniques for dealing with stress, fear, and self-doubt as well as connecting with others, practicing mindful leadership, and performing under pressure.

Building Reslience (click here to access course in a new window)

Kelley School of Business professor and professional communications coach Tatiana Kolovou explains how to bounce back from difficult situations, by building your "resiliency threshold," with these ten training techniques.

Future Learn

Futurelearn offers a diverse selection of free courses from leading university and cultural institutions from around the world. Futurelearn is a private company wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education. Futurelearn has over 89 partners from around the world. They include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational materials, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School.

Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (click here to access course in new window)

Learn mindfulness techniques to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing and work/study performance in this free online course.

Useful Websites

NHS self-help guides

A range of self-help books (available also as MP3 downloads) covering such topics as Anger, Anxiety, Bereavement, Alcohol and You, Depression, Eating Disorders, Panic, Social Anxiety and Stress.

Have I Got a Problem?

Have I got a problem? is a website developed for anyone interested in learning more about mental health or addiction issues or concerns. There is lots of video channels to choose from with hundreds of downloadable resources for you to read. All the videos and resources are free to access.

Five Areas Online

This site gives practical advice about common problems such as low mood, anxiety, panic and stress, as well as physical health problems and problems such as smoking and drinking. Students have free access to online books and accompanying worksheets, which have been designed to communicate key points that can help you to make useful change.

Mental Health Foundation Wellbeing Podcasts

Free downloadable audio podcasts to help you relax, sleep and improve your general sense of wellbeing. They're designed to fit around your lifestyle and provide an introduction to the skills and techniques that can help you live a mentally healthier life.

Helpful Contact Details

Enabling Services (8am - 6m, Mon - Fri), 023 8059 7726, enable@soton.ac.uk

Residences Support (6pm - 8am, 7 days), 023 8059 5777, ResidencesSupport@soton.ac.uk

Private Rented Support (6pm - 8am, 7 days), 023 8059 8040, prsupport@soton.ac.uk

University Health Service (8am - 5.30pm, Mon - Fri), 023 8055 7531,  SURGERY@UNIDOCS.CO.UK

Nightline (8pm - 8am, term-time),  023 8059 5236

Union Southampton Advice Centre (9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri), 023 8059 2085, advice@susu.org

Samaritans (24hrs, 7 days), 116 123, jo@samaritans.org

 

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