Stress Awareness Day: How to empty your stress container

by Sophie Saunder, Residential Experience Coordinator

I’ve just recently started my new role at the University of Bristol, working as a Residential Experience Coordinator in Residential Life. It’s mine and my colleagues’ job to make sure that you have a great time in halls and that your JCRs are working as well as they can be! November the 3rd is Stress Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of stress, and ways to combat it. In this blog, I’ll tell you a little bit about my background and ways you can manage stress and overwhelm. 

Before I came to UoB I worked at Bath Mind, a local mental health charity that works to support the mental health and wellbeing of people living in Bath and North East Somerset. Prior to that, I studied German, Spanish and European Studies at the University of Bath so I’ve been in the wonderful South West for a while now!  

At Bath Mind, I worked on a student mental health project called the Mentally Healthy Universities program, a project that provided preventative mental health training for students in the form of online workshops. Throughout this process, I learned a lot about various tools and techniques that can support your mental wellbeing on a daily basis.  

One important topic that came up often in the workshops was stress. One way that we would imagine stress in the workshops is to imagine that all of your stresses collect into a ‘stress container’. Student life can throw a wide range of stresses at you, filling up the stress container: potentially living away from home for the first time, making friends, starting a new course, exams, essays and socialising can all add to stress levels. Sometimes, the stress container can overflow which can lead to overwhelm, burnout and low mood.  

It’s useful to think about ways to empty or relieve your stress container. For Stress Awareness Day and beyond, the ResiLife team have put together a self-care package for you to use on the awareness day and beyond to empty your stress container.  

345 Breathing  Download here

345 breathing is a simple way to activate your ‘rest and digest’ nervous system, moving out of the ‘fight or flight’ mode which can help you with stress and/or overwhelm. 

To practice, breathe in for three, hold that breath for four and breathe out for five. Try this for a few rounds, for as long as feels comfortable. 

54321 Grounding Technique Download here

The 54321 grounding method helps you to engage in each of your 5 senses which is an effective way to ground yourself in the present.  

Try to find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This can help you engage with your surroundings and help with overwhelm. 

Letters of Positive Affirmations Download here

A letter of affirmation is a note that you write to yourself to put your thoughts, feelings and emotions on paper. It can focus on the positives in your life and address specific challenges, and help you to improve self esteem and confidence in times of stress.  

Self Soothe Box Download here

A self-soothe box contains many different things that will ground you and help make you feel more relaxed when you need it. You can tailor the box to you, including things that will personally help when feeling anxious or stressed. 

Food for Mood Breakfast for Focus and Concentration Recipe Download here

Food can have a huge impact on mood, and during stress our eating habits can change or fluctuate. This breakfast recipe is useful for focus and concentration when you’re studying.  

We hope these self-care tips are useful as you continue into the semester, please share them with friends to raise awareness of ways to support stress and overwhelm.  

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