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Stress

Life as a student means that you will face and handle various types of challenges. People often set high standards for themselves and their performance, which can cause them to feel stressed. That is why it is important to find a balance between activity and rest.

Stress – for better or for worse

Stress is something we must constantly face and something we could not manage without. Stress exists so that we can face different challenges and changes, and to help us survive various types of threats – genuine as well as perceived.

The occurrence of stress can be seen as a reaction to an imbalance between the demands we experience and the resources we have to respond to them. A good and supportive social context is important to mitigate the effects of stress. However, the problem is often not the stress itself, but that we spend too little time on recovering.

Lack of energy due to poor nutrition can also increase your susceptibility to stress. Find out more about how diet affects your physical health on our webpage: Diet and exercise.

Information on diet and exercise

A good way to combat stress is to try and stimulate our body’s parasympathetic nervous system, that is, our calming and rebalancing system. This can be done by maintaining a good balance between activity and rest. 

To find a balance, it may be helpful to consider the following:

  • keep studies and spare time clearly separate
  • in your free time, do things that do not impose any demands
  • spend time with people with whom you feel you can be yourself
  • reflect on what you want and dare to say no
  • eat and exercise regularly, and get about 6–8 hours of sleep per day.

During your studies, it is also important to find time for recovery. You can do this by creating a structure for how much and when to study.

  • Set aside an appropriate amount of time for independent study. Decide how long you will study and remember to take regular breaks, at least once an hour.
  • Plan according to your time rather than the number of assignments you have. By taking control of your time, you gain clarity about what you spend your time doing.
  • Try to specify what you will be doing while studying. The 'Pomodoro Technique' is a good way to structure your studies; it involves a 25 minute focus period followed by a 5 minute break.

Watch a video about the Pomodoro Technique on YouTube

Difficulty maintaining focus?

Putting things off – procrastinating – is more stressful than doing them straight away. Try to decipher what it is you are trying to avoid instead. Often, it is a matter of not clearly formulating what needs to be done, which can trigger anxiety and stress and make you do something else instead. Procrastinating reduces anxiety and stress for the moment, but often makes the situation worse in the long run. 

Information about procrastination

  1. Take a seat in your chair. Make sure that you and your feet are firmly in contact with the surface underneath and that you can feel the support from both the floor and your chair.
  2. Let your shoulders and arms become heavy and imagine that they are supported by your chest.
  3. Let your lower jaw become heavy and/or relax your tongue. Notice what happens to your breathing when you do this.
  4. Continue to focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale for a while, without placing any value or judgement on how you breathe. Just take in the present moment.
  5. Let your mind wander for a bit between the various parts of your body and your breathing.
  6. If you lose focus because of a thought that pops into your mind, simply let it be. Be happy that you noticed your thought and can then choose to return your mind to your body and breathing.

Try more mindfulness exercises at oxfordmindfulness.org

More ways to reduce your stress levels

Take a stress test on alexit.se for a greater understanding of your stress levels. Once the test is complete, you will receive feedback on your stress levels and what you can do about it.

Take our stress test on alexit.se

If you find your studies stressful, it may be a good idea to improve your study technique. The Academic Support Centre offers help with study techniques and the various types of writing.

The Academic Support Centre and how to make an appointment

The Student Health Centre’s stress management course

The Student Health Centre offers a stress management course each semester. It is based on a CBT technique called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). The course consists of three sessions during which you will learn more about stress, how to handle it and how to find a balance between your studies and your free time. We also discuss how to handle negative thoughts, such as anxiety and perfectionism.

Registration for the autumn 2021 stress management course is now closed.

For help managing your stress, you can also book an individual consultation at the Student Health Centre. 

Make an appointment at the Student Health Centre

Prolonged stress

If you do not have a balance between stress and recovery over a long period of time, it may begin to affect your health. This is usually evident through the various ways the body tries to signal that stress levels are too high. 

For instance, you may feel extremely tired, have difficulty sleeping, get heart palpitations or have issues with your digestion. Over time, you will become increasingly tired and eventually you will end up physically and mentally exhausted.

How to prevent burnout

It is important to take the signs of stress very seriously. The sooner you notice stress-related problems, the faster you can make changes to prevent the issues from developing further.

Tips for recovery 

Make sure to take some time to relax and create opportunities for rest during stressful periods. This is necessary in order to regain your strength and energy and to be able to recover.

How you work towards recovery is very individual. Try to find your own ways to relax and achieve calmness and tranquility. This does not necessarily mean that you have to rest; it could also involve exercising or socialising with friends and family. Prioritising hobbies is also a way of relaxing and feeling energised.

It is also important to try and get sufficient sleep. Sleep is essential to the body and brain’s ability to rest and process information.

Do you think you have chronic fatigue syndrome?

Get in touch with the Student Health Centre if you think that your studies are making you feel exhausted.

Get help with exhaustion at the Student Health Centre

Contact information

Student Health Centre
Telephone:
+46 (0)46-222 43 77

Reception phone hours:
Monday–Wednesday and Friday, 08:30–09:30
Thursday, 08:30–09:00

Subject to temporary changes.

Visiting address:
Sandgatan 3
Lund

Postal address:
Lund University
Student Health Centre
Box 117
221 00 Lund

Find the Student Health Centre on Google Maps

For students at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH):

In addition to the Student Health Centre, you can also turn to psychological counsellors at LTH.

Contact details for psychological counsellors at LTH – LTH website

For doctoral students: 

Turn to the Occupational Health Service – Staff Pages

For employees, student union representatives or representatives of another organisation:

Information about the Student Health Centre – Staff Pages

Suggested reading

Self-help book: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes

Self-help guide about stress – NHS website (external PDF, new tab)