The pressure of exams and seemingly endless coursework can take its toll on students’ health. But though we use the word almost daily, what exactly is stress? Stress is actually a medical condition, defined as “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.”
It’s important to know your own body and recognise any symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, lack of appetite or dizziness (a full list of symptoms can be found on the NHS website: ww.nhs.co.uk/conditions/stress). And, while everyone has their own personal way to relax, if you are looking for proven stress-busting techniques, then look to more holistic solutions involving healthy eating, aromatherapy and massage.
Focusing on massage, this is one of the least common stress-busting techniques used by students. Many believe it’s too expensive, or doubt its benefits. But in fact, massage can do more than simply help you feel more relaxed. According to Anne Rafferty from Pamper You Parties, who specialise in relaxation and beauty therapy, the benefits of massage include:
The relief of muscle tension
Greater flexibility and range of motion
Deeper and easier breathing
The relief of tension-related headaches and the effects of eye strain
Strengthened immune system
Before starting her own business, Anne worked with the Royston Stress Centre (www.roystonstress.org.uk) on a stress management project aimed to help those with serious cases.
You can be referred by your GP to these centres, or you can refer yourself, so it’s a service of which everyone can take advantage. Anne suggests, “It’s always worth finding out if there is something in your area as these centres are free of charge and will often be able to offer support.”
There are many local therapists who offer great treatments at a student-friendly price. Woodland Herbs, on Woodlands Road, offers preferential rates to members of the University gym. Alternatively, there are services that can come to you, such as Tranquillity by Ruth, an independent company offering massage treatments from £20, with an additional £5 cost to come to your home. Their website (tranquilitybyruth.weebly.com) features notes on how to give your own massages, so a stay-at-home option could be for you and your roommates to learn the tricks of the trade. It’s worth taking the time to chill out — it might bring more benefits than you expect!