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7 Ways to Cope With Stress

Coming to a new country to study isn’t easy.

You might be getting used to a new language, a new culture, a new education system and a new way of doing things.

You might also have goals in mind: doing well at school, getting good grades and then getting a good job. 

When we have so many goals to achieve, our health and wellbeing may become less of a priority. However, being a good student doesn’t mean you have to study day and night. It’s important to find a good balance between studying, working and living. 

Try these 7 tips to cope with stress and improve your wellbeing. 

1. Increase your social connections

When you’re an international student, you leave your family and friends back home and have to start building relationships all over again. People can feel lonely and isolated because they don’t have that same sense of community here. 

It’s important to spend time working on new relationships as well as continuing to connect with people back home. Remember that it takes time to make new friends.

2. Start something new

In New Zealand, there are lots of opportunities to join groups and learn new things. It could be a new hobby, taking up physical exercise or learning how to cook. Volunteering can also be very emotionally fulfilling (and also great for developing skills for your future too). 

Do whatever makes you feel good and helps you with your health. 

3. Take notice of how you’re feeling

If you’re working or studying all day, check in with yourself often to see how you feel. 

If you notice you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t just ignore it. You could take time out to watch a movie, or just sit outside drinking a cup of coffee. 

4. Learn time management skills

To improve your time management, prioritise your tasks by urgency and importance. 

Write a list of tasks you have to do, and then in another column mark which ones are important and which ones are urgent.

First, do the tasks that are important and urgent.

Second, do the tasks that are important but not urgent. 

Third, do the tasks that are urgent but not important. 

All your remaining tasks are neither important nor urgent, so do them last. Cross off your tasks once you’ve finished them so you don’t feel overwhelmed and don’t feel you have to do everything at once. 

5. Try visualisation

Take a break from whatever you’re doing and go to a quiet, calm room where you won’t be disturbed. 

Close your eyes and, in your mind, go to a place that helps you feel calm. It might be a beautiful beach at sunset with a warm breeze blowing.  Imagine being somewhere that brings you that calm, that peace.

Stay there for five to 10 minutes. 

6. Breathe deeply

Focussing on your breath is a good way to calm your mind. Try this deep breathing exercise: 

  • Breathe in as much oxygen as you can while counting to six.

  • Hold your breath while you count to two.

  • Let the air out while you count to eight. 

You can change how long you count for to suit you, but breathing out should take longer than breathing in.

Do this deep breathing exercise for five minutes at a time. Practice it as often as you need to throughout your day. 

7. Get support if you need to

Just because no-one else is talking about the challenges of being an international student doesn’t mean that you’re the only one experiencing them. Other people might be feeling just the same as you. 

In New Zealand, there are support services to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. 

It’s OK to talk about how you’re feeling. And with the right support, you can achieve the goals you set yourself when you left your home country.  

By Shirleen Prasad

Updated 10 months ago

Shirleen Prasad is a qualified counsellor and a registered addictions practitioner. She leads a team of counsellors at Asian Family Services.

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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