Tea with Strangers

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Stress is often associated with the life of a student. We all get stressed from time to time but it is important to recognise when this stress shifts from being a helpful source of motivation to one that is distracting us from our goals and taking away enjoyment. During times of anxiety and stress, it is important to find sources of support and manage these feelings in healthy and constructive ways.

Depending on the individual, some techniques will be more helpful than others online resources that include information on everything from mindfulness to counselling sessions. Here are 5 things that I have found to be helpful as a student:

  1. Exercising Regularly: As we learned from Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…” For me, running outside is the best way to manage stress. Imperial is close to many parks that have great running paths including Hyde Park, Holland Park, and Battersea Park. Our social reps for International Health Management have even organised some group runs to enjoy these outdoor spaces. Don’t like running? Then go for a walk or try a different form of exercise like pedal boating, roller blading, or biking. Local hint: The Santander cycles are just £2 for a 24-hour rental period. If you use these bikes for 30-minute periods throughout the day and continue to return them to docking stations, then you won’t have to pay additional fees and can bike all around London for just £2!
  2. Yoga: There are many yoga studios not too far away from Imperial. I recently signed up at a studio, and my goal is to go every day for 21 days straight (since it takes 21 days to form a habit). I have never been a regular yoga-goer but since benefits include improved focus, levels of immunity, and energy, I decided to give it a try. So far, I’m starting to feel more relaxed and stronger with the addition of daily yoga.
  3. Eating Healthy: What we eat really affects our mood and energy levels. Being intentional about drinking enough water and incorporating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies into your diet really makes a difference in how you feel. Spoon University is a helpful website that has simple recipes and food hacks. All of the content is generated by students at universities so you know the recipes will be easy to follow and student hall friendly. I especially recommend their smoothie recipes!
  4. Honest Conversations: Having a close friend or two to talk to about how you’re feeling can really make the difference. When you keep things bottled up, they worsen and ultimately end up revealing themselves in a more destructive way. Whether you speak to a friend in-person, via FaceTime, or even with some old fashioned snail mail, a good catch up is a  simple way to brighten your day. Feeling bold? Sign up for a teatime with Tea with Strangers, a great organisation that is all about bringing people together and making big cities feel more like close-knit communities.
  5. Disconnecting: Recently, I had the misfortune of losing a cell phone and breaking a laptop all within a week. Although I was somewhat stressed during this time, the silver lining of the experience was that it was kind of nice to be away from technology and in touch with the world around me. Social media can be a really helpful tool for maintaining relationships but it isn’t always the best for mental health. Taking a break from social media and technology, in general, can help you feel present, refreshed, and liberated.

Life has its stressful seasons but knowing how to take care of your needs can help you focus on the good things and literally come out stronger (if you do yoga).

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Carissa Gilbert

About Carissa Gilbert

MSc International Health Management student
MSc International Health Management student