Stress is something we all experience at different times to different levels of intensity, but it isn't always a bad thing. Stress is our brain's way of giving us physical cues that we are in danger or there is something we need to respond to. Sometimes those feelings can be overwhelming and feel unbearable, but at other times they can help us gain focus and achieve our goals. Many of us will experience occasions when we feel we have performed better in a situation because we were stressed.
Typically stress triggers the Fight, Flight, Freeze Response.
Stress is mostly a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion. That's why when we are stressed we might feel like our heart is racing and we are breathing quickly. Or we might feel stuck, unable to move and take things in.
There are times though when we are under a lot of stress, from a lot of different sources and it can cause big problems. We can develop unhealthy coping strategies like alcohol, drug use, gambling, or even unhealthy sexual relationships. We can stop taking care of ourselves, stop doing our Uni work, stop paying our bills and feel there is no way out. This often happens when we Freeze because we are struggling to see the solution or way out.
Stress is part of life, we can't eradicate it entirely but what we can do is learn to manage it in a better way. In this section you will find information about how to manage stress, including support accessible within the University and resources online.
You will find really helpful advice and guidance to help you manage stress and cope with the physical symptoms of stress in the guides and videos above. Please take some time to read them and find out more.
You can also complete our My Wellbeing LEAP Modules. You can complete the STRESS MANAGEMENT Module.The module explores stress and what you can do to manage it. You will also find useful modules on topics like Isolation, Anxiety, Mindfulness and more in the My Wellbeing section.
If you are finding your academic work to be a source of stress please speak to your personal tutor, they are here to support you. The transition to Higher Education studies can be difficult, and we can be expected to learn and understand lots of new ways of learning and studying very quickly. To help you out the University has really helpful LEAP Modules MY ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT, which covers lots of academic skills including research skills, academic writing and different assessment methods. There is also a section to help you increase your digital skills MY DIGITAL LITERACY, this section covers many areas of IT you will need to get through your time here like TURNITIN, MOODLE, Emails and much more.
If you feel like you need a little more assistance in developing academic skills the library has created a really helpful Study Skills area.
This resource page has lots of helpful pages about a variety of different topics, from financial management, to substance use, domestic abuse, coping strategies like relaxation and mindfulness. Take a look at the pages that relate to your personal stress triggers, and coping strategies.
Guided meditation can help you to disconnect fromt eh rush and worries of life, helping you to slow your mind and body, and leaving you calmer when tackling new challenges. The University Chaplain, Gill Smart shared this piece with us. Find a quiet space and tune in...
The Life Lounge is an ideal space to take a bit of time out from your day – you’re welcome to drop in at any time. It’s a quiet and relaxing space with mindful prompts and activities to help you to slow down and chill out. Through the Life Lounge, you can also access specialist services to support and promote your mental wellbeing.
The Life Lounge brings together specialist services, free for students to access, including:
The service is open to all current students studying at the University of Bolton and the service is completely free.
You can access support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Togetherall
Whether you want to speak to peers or a counsellor, there will be someone there every minute of every day. You can join a supportive online community that’s totally anonymous, take part in a group course and take self-assessments.
Togetherall is a great source of support outside of normal office hours and means you can support when our services are closed, including evenings, weekends and outside of term.
Go to Togetherall.com to join with your uni email address – it takes 5 minutes and you have immediate access to support.
Togetherall has recently created some great advice and tips on 'Online Fatigue'
Is tech draining your energy? We’ve got five tips for dealing with online fatigue
Coping with the coronavirus pandemic has meant the world has moved even further towards the
digital space and left people spending hours in front of a screen working, socializing, shopping and
more. Whilst technology has enabled students to study from their homes and maintain contact with
friends and family, where physical interaction is limited, it has also increased tiredness and
disengagement due to the pressure of feeling like you have to be online at all times. This
phenomenon is known as ‘online fatigue’.
Online fatigue can have a negative impact on student mental health, heightening feelings of anxiety,
being overwhelmed and the ability to focus. Togetherall’s Clinical Director, Dr Tim Rogers, shares his
top tips on how to reset your relationship with technology.
1. Set app limits
Many of us don’t realise how much time we are actually spending online. Your device will likely be
able to tell you this, so take advantage. Monitor your activity and gradually reduce the time you
spend on each platform, especially across social media - set yourself time limits. For example, turn
off email notifications in the evening, or reduce social media use during mealtimes and before sleep.
If these features aren’t built into your device, there are plenty of services who can help, such as
Digital Wellbeing for Android.
2. Do one thing at the time
With the introduction of online teaching, it’s tempting to multi-task, but it’s important to resist the
urge. To perform at its best, the brain needs to concentrate on one task at a time. When studying or
listening to an online lecture, close any tabs or programmes that might distract you, like your inbox
or messaging, put your phone away, and stay present. We know it can be tempting, but remind
yourself that the message you received can wait a few minutes. You will be able to craft a better
response when you are not dividing your attention.
3. Be aware of social media
Comparison is the thief of joy, so try to follow social media accounts that are aligned with what is
important to you and foster positivity and motivation. It’s easy to feel inadequate and get a false
sense of ourselves when we are constantly comparing with the best selves of others. Remember that
no one’s life is perfect and what people show on social media is often a façade.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, it’s good advice to think about whether to delete those
apps altogether for a while, especially for younger women, for whom social media can be most
damaging in terms of mental health.
If you need a safe space to connect with others and express how you are feeling, the Togetherall
community is available 24/7 and monitored round the clock by trained professionals.
4. Remember to take regular breaks from online work
If you find there are moments in your day that feel overwhelming, take a few minutes of reflection
and positive action, such as starting a Togetherall course which can help you reset and refocus.
It’s important to take regular breaks between tasks – at least five minutes every hour – to set your
energy levels and restore focus. During your break, try to step away from technology. Stand up and
walk around, drink a glass of water or try some breathing exercises to let go of stress.
5. Don’t forget the importance of exercise, nutrition and a good night sleep
It can feel good to work hard and push ourselves when things are tough, even if this requires
working extra hours to achieve top results. Rest and recovery, however, are paramount to
maintaining high performance, and this starts with a good night’s sleep. Diet also plays a key role in
maintaining a healthy body. Remember to drink plenty of water during the day to avoid dehydration
– your brain needs at least 2 litres of it per day - and follow a balanced and healthy diet to improve
Activity is important for mental health as much as it’s for physical health. If you spend most of your
time sat on a chair, it’s important to engage in daily physical activity to improve posture and
strengthen the muscles. For most, any step up in physical activity will improve the mood, even if it is
five minutes to stand up and stretch or move around - try to climb the stairs!