It is so easy to think you’re alone when you experience stress especially when it seems as though everyone around you is coping so well. It is important that we learn to manage our stress as stress has many different symptoms (both physical and psychological) which may cause consequences for your health. Your stress may be due to a specific issue such as exam stress or giving a presentation in front of an audience. Unfortunately, these are all a huge part of University life. I am not saying one cap fits all, some individuals can cope with stress and anxiety and may even thrive under these circumstances. However, others may find it harder to cope with these assessments. To those finding it hard to cope, including myself, it is more than presentation nerves and butterflies in the stomach. The good news is, you are not alone.
I am classed as a mature disabled student and after my diagnosis, my confidence plummeted and my anxiety reached new heights. Luckily for me, the School of Psychology offered Stress Busting Workshops (SBW). These were a good place to start in equipping me with skills and little tricks to help me override the feelings and concerns resulting from student life. The workshops took place in small rooms on the second floor of the Eleanor Rathbone Building and were carried out by Caroline Hands (PhD student/Demonstrator), who with the assistance of the SBW team, helped to put us all at ease. At these workshops I met a bunch of lovely like-minded people who also thought that they were on their own with their stress concerns. Additionally, everyone had different issues, so the different workshops were designed to cater for all of us.
From the SBWs, I learned how to deal with both presenting and exam stress. For presenting, I gained little tricks to lessen these feelings of anxiety and stress, such as how to design a ‘top notch’ presentation. Also, I found it extremely helpful having the opportunity to practice presenting in front of my peers. For exams, the workshops taught me useful tips such as: breathing techniques, how to organise my time more efficiently and approaching questions in the right frame of mind, whether it be a Multiple Choice Test or an essay exam. I felt I had the power to help myself to dampen those nerves, which in my opinion led to better results with my final exams and my confidence as a whole.
I wanted to give my honest opinion of how these workshops helped me with my goals and reaching the place where I am today. I am happy to say I have gratefully accepted an offer to start the MSc in Research Methods in Psychology this year, which a few years ago I did not even feel was in reach. I feel that all the new skills that I have gained from the workshops are going to carry me forward and will help lessen my issues with anxiety and stress.
Before coming to Liverpool, I used to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness. However, since speaking to so many individuals that have helped me over the years, I have come to realise that being helped when you need it just puts you on the same playing field as everyone else. I would recommend anyone who has any of the feelings or concerns that I have had to give the workshops a go, I promise you that you will be glad that you took that first step towards empowering yourself.
If you only take one thing away from reading this blog please be mindful that your health is more important than anything else, even if you think you are coping. On a lighter note, there is help out there whatever the problem, so I hope you enjoy the workshops!
For more information on the workshops please email the Stress Busting Team at – PsycSBW@liverpool.ac.uk
Contribution by Cheryl Brown, recent Psychology graduate and Masters student at the University of Liverpool.