Stress is a problem young people are having to deal with more and more in the modern world, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be getting easier anytime soon. It might feel inescapable and overwhelming, but there are ways to either cope with it or to remove sources of stress from your life. And if it still feels impossible, there’s a final word of advice from someone far wiser than we are:
Some of the methods listed in the following are easy, and others are either very drastic or difficult, but they’re worth it!
Now, where and how you get stressed will be completely different depending on where in life you are currently standing. So we’ll do our best to be clear about where these sources come from; and specifically, we’ll cover university-related stress and workplace-stress.
- Homesickness: Being away from home for a long time can be a tall order, especially if you’re not used to being so far away. Whilst some people can visit family during weekends/holidays, not everyone is going to be so lucky. Stress can arise from culture shock, either from country to city life or from moving countries. These shocks can be amplified if you don’t know how to live independently (not necessarily alone), which can lead to depression or dropping out of university. Thankfully, with how advanced communications tech is these days, reaching out to family is (normally) easy. Worst comes to worst, university counselors are very used to homesick students, so any advice you receive from them will be tried and tested.
- Social adjustments: University life presents many challenges and having to restructure your social life is one that isn’t discussed often. A somewhat dark/depressing reality is that you’ll most likely not see much of your old school friends, especially if you’re moving overseas. Alongside having to compensate for new living situations, classes and whatever else, making friends can be very difficult. Those first weeks, when you’ve just moved and are reaching out by yourself can be daunting, but chances are, you’re not the only one who’s nervous about making new connections.
- Living situation: Whether it’s perpetual flatmate drama, a substandard flat, or keep afloat of bill/rent payments, simply organizing your living situation can cause many unnecessary headaches. You could argue that this is an “essential life skill”; after all, this is not a problem exclusive to university. Oftentimes, these problems can be kind of simple to solve. The best way to (temporarily?) relieve these stresses is to remember that your situation is most likely not unique (and if it is, it’ll be something to laugh about a few years down the line). Simply speaking to people may also help you relieve stress by finding answers. A situation that seems all-consuming to you may seem easy to solve to someone with an outside perspective.
- Academic expectations: At this time of year, exams are at the forefront of every student’s mind (as a general rule: this may not be true for every subject). The pressure to perform can cause a very significant mental burden, very often with physical and mental consequences. Depending on your circumstances, good grades may be required, either to maintain a scholarship or keep a path to a certain career open, which demands nothing short of the best you can give for every exam. There isn’t a piece of advice that is universal in this situation, but it may bring ease of mind if you consider alternative options, “longer routes” or the prospect of resitting. University isn’t a race, so don’t feel ashamed if you need to resit.
From the Workplace
- Bad hours: You know the feeling. Work takes up most of your day, you barely have time to clean, cook or, in the worst cases, sleep properly. And when the weekend rolls around, it feels like barely enough time. This is a very difficult problem to fix, as finding a new job is not as simple a prospect as some people might think.
- Toxic Culture: “Toxic Culture” is varied, both in how it manifests, and what causes it. It can be blame cycles, oppressive leadership/management (or extremely lax), heavily discriminatory, overly macho, uncooperative or difficult to effectively communicate in.
- Lack of opportunity: whether its lack of promotion opportunities or not being given the chance to learn anything new. A “dead-end” job can cause stress of the “what am I doing with myself” kind.
- Role uncertainty/ambiguity: your mileage may vary with this one, as some people enjoy working jobs where they work in other departments on occasion. However, if it feels like you’re not doing the job you applied for, this can cause some confusion.
- Unfortunately, a lot of workplace stress is difficult to alleviate without the manager’s involvement, which can be difficult (especially with a toxic culture). It may be easy to suggest simply walking away, this isn’t always an option. However, if your manager is willing to listen, they can make the appropriate changes. Don’t be afraid to speak to them and try to find solutions together.
But no matter in which situation you are or what you are facing right now, keep in mind, this is not how you will feel forever. It will get better. Hang in there. You are doing great, you are enough!