Feeling stressed or overwhelmed in your first year is completely understandable. You have to make new friends, work in a new and different environment, and possibly adjust to life away from home.

Perdeby spoke to Caitlin Barford, a masters student in counselling psychology, who shared a few tips about stress and how to manage it.

Stress can present itself in various ways, but some of the most common symptoms of stress include headaches, social withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness or depression and a change in eating or sleeping habits. While this is not an exhaustive list, if you’re experiencing these symptoms it’s possible that stress is getting the better of you. If you suffer from these symptoms, you should consider seeing a professional for help.

While first year may be daunting, there are ways to limit the stress you experience. Ensure you stay up-to-date with your work and be aware of deadlines and test dates. Make an effort to avoid procrastination by setting a timetable. While your newly gained freedom may be exciting, don’t forget to communicate with your support system and never be afraid to ask for advice.

It is important to develop a routine and allow yourself enough time for both academic and leisure activities. By allocating different times to different activities, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed. Whether you go for a jog or sit and watch series, when your study time comes around you will feel less ambushed and more prepared.

Some tips for dealing with stress include normalising your situation and understanding that all students are placed under pressure. Keep the stress you experience in perspective by discussing the difficulties you experience with your peers and support system.

Always remember that you are never alone, as there are group workshops that are offered by Student Support which deal with a wide range of issues, from stress management, adjustment to university life and exam preparation to support with parental divorce, trauma and loss, and depression and anxiety. Personal consultations are also available should students require further assistance. Student Support is located next to the Student Centre, opposite the Tukkiewerf entrance. Student support may be contacted on 012 420 2333. Their office hours are 07:30-15:30.

Image: Kaylyn O’Brien

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