Self-care strategies and “Stress Less” activities 

As we’re hurtling toward exam season and the semester’s end, this article will give you tips to navigate the coming stormy weeks. The “Stress Less” initiative at the University of Newcastle is here, and it’s a beacon of relaxation and self-care amid the chaos. 

What’s Stress Less all about? 

Stress Less is like a warm, comforting embrace during busy academic seasons. It’s an initiative that aims to help us manage our stress and well-being. This semester it will run during Weeks 12, 13 and exam week. 

You will find an incredible range of activities and incentives designed to help us relax and de-stress. What’s better is that they are organised across several of the university campuses. You can find out more about these activities on the University of Newcastle’s website.  

Screenshot from the uni_newcastle_students Instagram page displaying information about the current Stress less activities

How can you take advantage of Stress Less? 

The initiative gives you free gym access at NUSport during Stress Less weeks! Exercise is a stressbuster: it will send more oxygen to your brain, which helps you physically cope with stress.  

If you are feeling confused about your assignments or how to prepare for exams, I highly recommend attending a study skills workshop. I have received valuable help to clarify academic expectations during these workshops, they are a game-changer during stressful times.   

As an introvert, I do most studying on my own and am guilty of endlessly postponing my social life. However, I realised that sharing how I feel and learning how others cope with stress is incredibly helpful. Stress Less has scheduled breathwork, meditation and ice baths with UNSA & Talk2MeBro, a not-for-profit organisation focusing on suicide prevention and awareness. They will be offering free coffee and breakfast for early birds when meeting at 7am on Friday 27th of October. Register here for this event! 

An image depicting information about an upcoming event in collaboration with Talk2mebro and UNSA for ice baths and meditation

If you like animals and prefer their company, Callaghan will have Therapy Dogs visiting Auchmuty Library, Thursday 26th of October. It’s a great way to just be yourself for a moment and connect with animals, which are known to help calm a stressed mind and help regulate anxiety. 

Don’t forget that our Libraries offer evening snacks for those late study nights on campus. Grab a comforting cup of noodles or soup to help you stay focused and energised. Plus, Student Central is teaming up with campus food vendors to cook you some delicious deals for your evenings of study! 

Not on campus? Here are other ways to stress less. 

I get it, I also live far from campus. So, I often have to resort to my own strategies to reduce stress while completing my assignments. Here are some strategies you can try if you can’t make it to the available Stress Less activities: 

A photo of a coffee mug with coffee in it with the milk frothed into the shape of a heart
  • A Nice Cuppa 

Coffee or tea, no matter the weather, is always comforting. I like to treat myself to a large flat white on oat milk at my local café (too bad for my first house deposit!). What’s great is that a coffee often comes with free small talk with the barista, which helps get your mind out of the stress zone. If you prefer a homemade beverage, this is also a great way to lift your head out of your books for a quick pick-me-up during stressful moments. 

  • Stretch  

If your degree requires you to sit down for long hours, check out this seated stretch video on our university’s website. In the coming weeks, I will be completing most of my assignments sitting at a desk, in a static position. If I do not stretch regularly, I almost need re-education of my legs to be able to stand again at the end of the day! Taking care of your body will positively impact your mind and effectively helps manage your stress.  

An image of Yasmina's feet in the sand at the beach with the water foaming around them
  • Beach Strolls and Park Walks 

When I need to reset, I try to head to the beach or a nearby park. I feel privileged to live in coastal NSW and I take advantage of our beautiful land to rewind. Sunsets are magical in our region and offer wonderfully soothing gradients of colours to admire.   
If nature isn’t your jam, walking to and from the shops is a choice I often take too. 

  • Staying indoors 

There are days when I feel overwhelmed and prefer to stay indoors. I combat that by walking around my place or doing some housework. Taking a break might sound counterintuitive, but it’s incredibly productive. It lets your brain breathe and recharges your focus, making you more efficient when you return to your tasks. I also take a short nap to recharge my brain, it’s an instant mood booster. Another indoor activity that helps me stay sane is creating something with my hands. Whether it is cooking or drawing, it provides a much-needed break from studying, allowing my mind to reset and gather fresh ideas. 

An image of Yasmina's hand as she's doing a delicate dot and line drawing

Whether you are on or off campus, there are ways to help you manage your stress levels. If you are studying on your own and are feeling stressed out about the end of the semester, you’re not alone! We are in the same boat and Stress Less at the University of Newcastle is a lifeline! If, like me, you cannot make it to campus, make sure you practice self-care and take breaks. Your wellbeing is the key to your success!  

Leave a Reply