Ever felt breathless, sick, heart pounding and racing, dizzy just before an exam or a presentation? That’s adrenalin (I’m not the right sort of doctor to pronounce on medical issues so I’m assuming that you will visit your GP if you are ill – please 🙂 ).
Adrenalin kicks in when we are under stress, be it physical or mental. It prepares the body for fight or flight and can be pretty powerful, particularly when students supplement it with caffeine and sugar! Here’s the thing: adrenalin is designed to power your body to do something. If it is given no outlet, adrenalin can make you feel ill. If this goes on for long enough it can actually contribute to making you ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME or exacerbate other illnesses.
Humans function well under certain kinds of stress – ask any athlete how well they peform when they’re sitting in their comfort zone 🙂 . Stress is not bad per se but if you are getting stressed and adrenalin is coursing through your body it needs an outlet: exercise, effective breathing and dealing with the cause of the stress ie studying as effectively as you can.
Stress in its chronic form will fatigue students and make it harder for them to learn – it can create ‘brain fog’ so everything is more difficult to process. In its acute form it can lead to panic when you feel that your brain is shutting down and refusing to function at all.
So what can you do?
BREATHE. Simply breathing deeply and taking the time to exhale as far as you can really does help. 5 minutes will make an enormous difference but in fact even taking 3 deep breaths (and exhaling!) will help more than you expect it to. Simple exercise: breathe in for a count of 3, hold your breath for 3, exhale for 3. Repeat but for a count of 4, then 5. The brain needs oxygen 🙂 .
SLEEP! Eat as well as you can, drink lots of water, make time to get out in the fresh air and take some exercise – 10 minute walks to break up study sessions can have a really helpful effect. Walking breaks are a great time to enjoy listening to your favourite energising music – said music while you’re trying to read really isn’t likely to be a good idea 🙂 .
There will be a time when you will need to hide under the duvet but there will also be a time when you will have to force yourself out of the door.
Fresh air and exercise are powerful helpers in the battle against anxiety and depression.
There will be days when just going outside will be a major achievement but it’s worth it. Forcing yourself to be part of the world even as an onlooker is a good reminder that we’re all part of the same human race. You may feel desperately alone but 1 in 4 suffers from anxiety or depression. The wounds don’t show but they are there.