What can I do myself?

When you experience stress, there are different things you can do to keep yourself healthy and relaxed.

Tip 1: Having an off-day is normal

Everyone has days when everything seems to go wrong. It may look like your fellow students don’t have bad days like this, but they do! (though they generally don’t talk about them on social media). These off-days are normal. Accept that you occasionally have a bad day and you will see that you can reduce your stress this way. Don’t ask yourself “Why is this happening to me again?”. Don’t be so hard on yourself, lower the bar that day and make the best of it.

Tip 2: Pay attention to the warning signs

Your body and behaviour can tell how you are doing. Your body sends signals when you are stressed. And signals are also present in your behaviour that are signs of stress. If you don’t recognise these signals in time, it can lead to bigger problems. So it’s important to pause a few times a day and check how you are doing. For more information about signals and symptoms of stress, see the heading “Causes of student stress”.

Tip 3: Eat healthy

By eating too little, a low blood sugar level can make you lack confidence and feel irritable, while overeating can make you sleepy. Eating healthy can help you get through stressful days. By eating small but frequent meals, you can help your body maintain a healthy blood sugar level. In this way you can prevent mood swings, increase your energy level and stay focused. Choose fresh foods that are rich in vitamin B, vitamin, C, magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fats or take supplements.

Tip 4: Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation, either temporarily or chronical, is unhealthy. If we are stressed the quality of our sleep reduces. This is because our body is in a constant state of alertness. Try to avoid napping during daytime, but go to bed at night when you are feeling tired. Use the blue light filter on your phone, laptop or tv in the evening and avoid screens when you are in bed.

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Tip 5: Start moving

Research has shown that regular exercise is a good way to reduce stress. This can be a sport, but may also be gentler exercise such as walking. Even when you don’t feel like it, it’s good to move. Afterwards you will have more energy and less stress.

Wageningen has a lot of student sport associations and sportcentre De Bongerd has a variety of lessons.

Tip 6: Go for a walk in nature

It is scientifically proven that a walk in nature helps reduce stress. There are lots of greenery and walking paths on campus. You can also go for some great walks in nature in and around Wageningen. So why not take a walk during your break or after a day of hard study?

Tip 7: Breathe in, breathe out...

One of the quickest ways to reduce stress is by focusing on calm breathing. Simply by “checking in” when breathing has a relaxing effect. By breathing calmly you also stimulate the part of your nervous system that provides relaxation and recovery. Breathe in gently through your nose and breathe out, for a few seconds longer, through your mouth. Do you want to try a breathing exercise? Mindfulness can be helpful too, there are multiple apps available that can help. In De Bongerd you can sign up for mindfulness courses as well. The WUR library offers meditation every first Thursday of the month from 12:30 till 13:15 hour.

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Tip 8: Plan evenings off

Plan evenings off when you can do something fun for yourself or arrange to do something with someone else. Also free up time during the day, such as an hour or half hour. Schedule this time and, if necessary, make sure that those around you know that you have free time. Even better: take a break with your friends. Social activities are stress reducing. Laughing has the same effect!

Tip 9: Undertake fun and relaxing activities

If stress is influencing your personal life and has an impact on your health, then it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to yourself and begin with little things that can improve your mood. Think back to what you used to enjoy doing. Don’t wait until you automatically feel like doing these things, but plan them in advance.

Tip 10: Find a listening ear

Even though another person can’t solve your problems, talking with someone can help you reduce stress. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend, fellow student, teacher or family member can reduce stress, even if you can’t change the situation.

Other tips

Bad timemanagement or studying the wrong way can cause stress. In this video you can find some scientific based study tips. Would you like to improve your study skills? Consider the EPO-training of WUR.

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