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How to focus on wellbeing during times of stress

Bree Somer, Wellbeing Development Counsellor, shares tips on handling stress.

Assignments, exams and other deadlines (as well as other life commitments) mean studying can at times be stressful.

Bree Somer is one of the new Wellbeing Development Counsellors in the University of Tasmania’s Student Wellbeing team. These roles have a preventative focus, seeking to implement positive mental health and wellbeing strategies.

Bree and the Wellbeing team have been collaborating with the Workplace Health and Safety team to put together a range of activities for Mental Health Week, for staff, students, and the community.

Bree says stress management should be a priority for all of us.

The nature of the academic environment means there are a lot of deadlines and a lot of expectations, on top of managing normal, everyday life, family responsibilities and other commitments external to this environment.

“Mental health has a higher profile these days, but I’m still not sure we do enough to proactively manage our stress. There’s still work to be done.”

Here are some helpful tips for managing stress, particularly when you’re up against deadlines or assessment pressure.

Look at what you have achieved, not just what you haven’t

“Step back for a minute to a space where you can reflect and acknowledge some of the achievements and positive things you have done rather than focusing on what you haven’t yet achieved. There will always be stuff we feel we could do more of. You may not have ticked all of your boxes, but you’ve probably ticked some.”

Have a chat

“Take the time to talk to someone and externalise what you're thinking and feeling. Getting a level of validation and reassurance is important. Just be careful you’re not connecting in a way that feeds stress, if your fellow student or colleague is already at a heightened stress level.”

Take a break

“Go for a walk, get some fresh air, get a cup of coffee, enjoy some sunshine and some nature, and perhaps discuss something else other than the source of your stress.”

“We know all the theory around optimal stress levels, all the things we should be doing to look after ourselves, but how do we make ourselves do them? That’s the hardest challenge.” Bree said.

“Sometimes it is about physically making yourself stop and look at your situation objectively. We need distance to do that, which is why leaving your desk or computer and going for a walk is a great tactic.”

Keep it simple

“There is so much information and so many tools for self-care out there, we can sometimes even find ourselves putting pressure on ourselves to manage that properly!”

“We need to make it really simple. Take Mindful Moments. It doesn’t have to be an hour of yoga, if for just one minute you stop what you’re doing and notice a bird outside the window or get up and stretch. Just take one moment, as a starting point. Pick one thing or tool that's going to work for you.”

Use the University’s resources

“There’s a whole range of free advice and free counselling services available for University students and staff, and everyone is encouraged to get in touch or access these whenever they feel they need support."