With the threat of dissertations deadlines fast approaching, and many more assignments looming over us this late in the semester, it's important to take time out to relax. Here's our top ten tips on how to reduce your stress over the next couple of weeks:

1) Make a list.

Sometimes, simply writing down everything you need to do is a great way to take some unnecessary weight off your shoulders. Once it's all there in black and white, it might not seem so overwhelming.

If you have a little bit of time left, how about start writing your own bucket list
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

Having a list also makes it easier to plan how you're going to move forward. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of physically crossing something off once it's done!

2) Volunteer!

Volunteering has lots of benefits for your mental health, including increasing your confidence, and beating feelings of anxiety. After stressing over your studies for long periods of time, it can be refreshing to focus on a new activity that isn't too much of a strain on your brain. Sign up for one of our Give It A Go events and give your brain a much needed break:

Highcliffe Litterpicking: Saturday 14th March, 10.30am, All Saints Church

Support Highcliffe to look after their community and keep it clean. Help litter pick for an hour then have a coffee at the local church and get to know the residents. Sign up here.

Community volunteers doing their bit during Student Volunteering Week

Booties for Hospital Babies: Friday 20th March, 1 - 4pm, Fred Wheeler 103

To support newborns at the local hospital we are doing a drop-in knitting event to make baby booties for the maternity ward in time for Mother's Day. Contact Give It A Go coordinator Feyi to take part!

3) Meditate.

Regular meditation is great for re-framing how we relate to our stress, which means we are better equipped to deal with stressful situations (such as nearing dissertation deadlines!) Our brains are constantly busy, so it's important to give it some time off and make room for what you're feeling.

Check out more of my travels at http://www.instagram.com/simonmigaj
Photo by Simon Migaj / Unsplash

If you're new to meditation, there are lots of great guided meditation videos on YouTube, or, if you're short on time, you can try these simple relaxation exercises.

4) Have some me-time.

It's important to take care of yourself, and your emotional wellbeing is just as important as your physical health! Set aside some time this week to do something relaxing and enjoyable.

'If I'm utterly overwhelmed, I take a long, hot shower. It's usually when my mind feels a bit cluttered that hot water really cleanses best. My body and spirit feel rejuvenated!' - Rosanna, Communications Officer

Whether you cook your favourite meal, spend some time with friends or watch a film you've been wanting to see, keep in mind you need this time out to recharge your batteries. You'll be much more productive when you're not feeling burnt out!

5) Attend a Woolly Matters session.

Sometimes, a good way to relax during something stressful is to do something creative. Focusing on a practical activity can be just the ticket to ease the mental strain.

Our Woolly Matters coordinator, Lydia enjoying her handiwork during a WM session

If you're free on a Wednesday afternoon, why not pop in for one of our Woolly Matters knitting sessions? Even if you've never knitted before, our Woolly Matters coordinator, Lydia, would be very happy to teach you! Woolly Matters sessions will be running every Wednesday, 1-2pm in Medecroft 15, until the end of the semester. We hope to see you there!

6) Make a plan.

Planning out your study time is a great way to maximise your productivity. Block out the time in your calendar that you're going to spend focusing on your assignments, and go in to each study session with a few goals of what you'd like to achieve.

Photo by Estée Janssens / Unsplash

Setting concrete and realistic goals means you're much more likely to have successful study sessions, than if you have the vague idea of 'complete this assignment.' Breaking down a big project into smaller, more manageable tasks means that you have a clear idea of how to progress, and are likely more optimistic about working towards your end goal, as you'll have lots of little achievements along the way.

7) Dance.

Did you know that dancing to music you enjoy can help with stress? Dancing, and other physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins in your brain, which causes you to feel calm, happy and optimistic.

If you're feeling in need of a boost, why not come along to our Dance-A-Thon fundraiser? We'll be getting down from 9am 'til 9pm, so why not come and join us in PCB4 9am-2pm, and Stripe Studio 1 from 2pm onwards?

Come let your hair down, and why not ask your friends and family to sponsor you via our online donations page? Find out more about the event on Facebook, and make sure you click 'going' to get the latest updates!

8) Eat some dark chocolate.

Although it may sound bizarre, dark chocolate can trigger the release of endorphins in your brain, which are a natural stress fighter. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% and above also combats cortisol, the stress hormone. Having a small amount of dark chocolate each day is scientifically proven to help manage moderate stress levels!

9) Take a nap.

Sleep is very important for concentration, which is a must for any student! The optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, but around eight hours a night is a good guideline. If you're struggling to fall asleep, try switching off your phone and meditating. Smartphone screens are designed to keep you awake, so spending your last waking moments scrolling through social media means it will be much harder for you to fall asleep. Clearing your mind through meditation should make falling asleep a lot easier, as you won't be kept up with the thought of the all the things on your to-do list.

Photo by bruce mars / Unsplash

If you've missed out on a good night's sleep, and are fighting feelings of fatigue, taking a short nap can make you feel much more alert. The recommended amount is no longer than 30 minutes, as any longer than this will make you feel groggy.

10) Prioritise.

If you're still feeling the crunch after trying other stress management techniques, it could be time to re-assess the amount of tasks on your to-do list. It's possible that the source of your stress is simply that you have too much going on. Don't fall into the trap of saying 'yes' to everything. There is a limit to how much one person can get done in a day. If you're consistently productive, but still feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day, it may be a sign that you need to reduce the amount of pressure you've put on yourself. Take a step back from non-essential projects until you have less going on.

If you're experiencing a lot of stress on a regular basis, The University of Winchester's Student Services offer a variety of mental health and wellbeing services to support students throughout their studies.