Blog by SiMS for Students Volunteer Project member Renite Gosal

University can be a balancing act at times between managing coursework, socialising with friends and family, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the course content itself can be an extra stressor. 

In studying global mental health, I have found that some of the content in my course can be heavy, deeply troubling, and sometimes triggering. There are moments in which the stress of university, life stressors of being a student, and my course content can all be quite overwhelming all at once. To keep a healthy mind, and avoid burnout, there are checks and balances that I keep in place. 

Coping with University Stress:

1. Understand how you learn best

    • Understanding your learning style can alleviate additional stressors and make studying more efficient
    • When do you study best? Knowing this will aid you in dividing your time for when you can most efficiently study

2. Create a schedule

    • Diarize important due dates, and start your coursework early
    • Create realistic schedules and study goals to help you cope with heavy course loads

 3. Set aside time to engage in non-academic related activities

    • It is vital to carve out recreational time and to take breaks to avoid burnout
    • Get active! Movement is medicine
    • Join a society in your university
    • Connect with your community
    • Spend time with friends

4. Reach out if stress is taking its toll

Coping with Difficult Content in Academia:

1. Identify the heavy topic

    • Topics in academia can sometimes be personal, especially in the humanities.
    • Be open and honest with yourself about what topics are emotionally tolling for you

2. Acknowledge and honour your emotions

    • If you need to take breaks when engaging with heavy content, do so

3. Coping mechanisms in the moment

    • Deep breathing
    • Movement (take a walk, or stretch it out)
    • Get some fresh air
    • Speak to course mates

 4. Self-Care

    • Set aside time to engage in activities unrelated to course work
    • Go for a hike, a walk on the beach, a walk in a park etc.
    • Workout
    • Eat nutritious foods to better support your mental health
    • Call friends and family

 5. Ask for help