Get moving to manage your stress!

Once again is that time of the year when assignments, exams, lectures and group projects take up most of our time. Stress levels increase and many students don’t know how to manage them properly. The large majority of university students tend to think about all the things they still have to do instead of doing it step by step and this is one of the biggest mistakes students can make whilst trying to manage their stress levels. Apart from that, for those who are dealing with high levels of stress and leading a sedentary lifestyle as well, coping with exams could become even more difficult.

The body is not designed for a sedentary lifestyle, because contrary to what you might think, inactive people get tired more easily than actives ones. Health-care professionals recommend physical activity as a key ingredient to any stress-management initiative: doing exercise regularly can help to clear your mind and keep your stress away. According to research exercising is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate!

Students at the library of University of Stirling   @Picture by the author

I was also that type of person who preferred to procrastinate and lay on the bed but once you start to get active and lay aside the laziness and the excuses, the benefits for your brain and your body finally arrive. Are you wondering how I overcame laziness? Well, let me tell you that things get a bit easier if you have good gym basic facilities in your own campus. The convenience of having the gym just a few steps away from the library makes you see and do things differently.

Becoming active at University of Stirling is actually quite easy and the benefits are enormous. One of the benefits of doing exercise is the release of endorphins. Those are the chemicals responsible for the feeling known as a “runner’s high”. A study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex found that increased levels of endorphins caused a “feel-good” response, which means mood improvement.  And there is nothing better to reduce stress than feeling good about yourself.

Fitness room at the Sport Centre of University of Stirling   @Picture by the author

But it is not all about endorphins, regular exercise can also help increase your self-esteem, which can be a powerful mechanism for alleviating stress. Have you ever experienced an unenthusiastic feeling towards exercise after being inactive for a long period of time? Spending a whole day at home with low levels of activity negatively influences our self-esteem and self-efficacy. Consequently, that will increase our stress levels. Again, the best solution for that is to get active, it doesn’t matter what kind of sport you decide to do whether it is a recreational sport, fitness class, going for a walk, attend a yoga or pilates lesson, going for a walk or even going for a swim in the swimming pool. Just take a look to the Sports Centre website and find the right activity for you. 

If, after all, you are still not convinced I propose one activity that it will help you to get rid of the stress in the twinkling of an eye. The Kayak Club of University of Stirling organises kayaking weekend trips in different locations around Scotland. I spoke with Georgia Henderson, the president of the Kayak Club, and she told me a little bit more about those trips – “We are away the whole weekend, we kayak during the day and party during the evening. My favourite place to go would be the Glen Coe area, in the Highlands, it offers some of the best rivers in Scotland and its dramatic and beautiful landscape is matched by nowhere in the UK. We also do day trips to more local rivers”. Do you know a better way to forget about assignments than be surrounded by nature?

Members of the Kayak Club kayaking in Scotland     @Picture by Kayak Club

I also asked Georgia how kayaking helped her to cope with stress and she told me that it is the only thing for her that can help put all the other worries to the back of her mind. On a river, you are too focused on making your lines and catching the next eddy to worry about uni work or other problems, she said. Georgia also pointed out other benefits of doing kayaking for students: “It gets people outside and in touch with nature, puts them in positions outside their comfort zones.  It teaches them about setting up safety as part of team and how to rely on each other”.

A member of the Kayak Club focused in making the next line     @Picture by Kayak Club

Now that you know that the best way to cope with deadlines, exams and assignment is to get active, why don’t you just get up right away and start doing something? There is a life beyond the library: a campus full of things to do, people to meet and opportunities to take advantage of. So, stop thinking about how stressed you are and start releasing those endorphins to keep your brain happy and at full capacity.

Also don’t forget to follow the Sport Centre in Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned about all the news and events. You can also start following the Instagram account of the Kayak Club to not miss a thing about their weekend trips and activities on campus!

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