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Stress In Nigerian Universities: Simple Ways to Cope With Stress in School

Education is the bedrock of every progressive society, and for most of us in this country, it is still the key – our ticket out of a life of pain and suffering, the gate to a better future. But this ticket doesn’t come cheap anywhere in the world, there is always a price to pay for knowledge. Sadly in Nigeria, the pursuit of higher education comes at a grave cost. Going through the Educational
system can be likened to trudging down a field full of landmines – the expensive tuition, chaotic school calendars and lecture schedules, massive workload, incessant strike actions, corrupt characters, and high cost of living in these academic environments – these can prove too much a burden for the average Nigerian student. All of the aforementioned contribute to stress in Nigerian universities. It has come to the point where Education is now considered an unnecessary evil, because even with sweat, blood, and a university degree, a bright future may still elude you (“School na scam, abi?”).

Stress in Nigerian Universities

Knowledge ought to be liberating, and learning, exciting. Anything short of this is a clear sign of a broken system – Yes, our educational institution is broken. The unfortunate reality is that students are constantly burdened with the responsibility of picking up the shattered pieces. Various research carried out over the years shows that more than 94% of Nigerian students studying in the country suffer from one form of stress-related problem or another; be it academic stress, emotional stress, or social stress, the obvious truth is that the system has gradually become a cave filled with stressors.

Different Studies have also established a direct link between stress and mental illness (especially anxiety and depressive disorders), this is a big concern, considering the sorry state of our healthcare system.

Common Causes of Stress in Nigerian Universities

There are a lot of factors leading to stress in universities. Some of these factors include;
● Academic Pressure: “Learning is serious business.” This is a common phrase in lecture halls. The academic work is designed to break you, and our system does so little to support you. It’s no surprise really that most students struggle.
● Financial Burden: Truth is, the economic situation in the country is bad, most families are just struggling to get by. Coupled with the constantly increasing tuition fees, it is difficult not to cave in.
● Social Adjustment: For most, the university may be the first time they get a taste of freedom – from overbearing parents and a constrained environment – this is a big leap, and not everyone can handle the stress that comes with adjustment.
● Drug Abuse: Sadly, Drug abuse is a big problem in tertiary institutions, students fall off and dabble into drugs as a way of coping. But the irony is that these drugs only cause more harm – increased stress and overall health deterioration.

Simple Ways to Cope with the Stress in Universities

Handling University stress can be such a struggle, but with the right tips, you can easily develop a coping system that will help you thrive throughout your stay in school.
● Prioritize self-care: Make sure to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Get enough rest (practice good sleep hygiene), eat healthy meals (it doesn’t have to be expensive), avoid illicit drugs, exercise regularly, and take breaks from social media. There are a lot of stressors out there, we have to be intentional about self-care to overcome them.
● Create a schedule: Staying focused and organized will save you from a lot of stress at the university. Plan out your days and weeks, this will help you stay on track. You can use a calendar, a to-do list, and an alarm to help you remember. A good plan is vital to a successful outcome.
● Practice mindfulness: Take time to focus on the present, don’t overthink it. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings so it is easier to notice when you are sinking. Something as simple as taking deep breaths, a 30-minute walk, and regular meditation can do a lot for you.
● Manage your expectations: Be realistic about what you can achieve and stop setting unrealistic goals. Plan for eventualities and encourage yourself with positive affirmations, never forget you are your biggest fan.
● Engage in activities: Find other activities you love and get involved in them. I know it may seem a lot sometimes, but maintain a balance and you can make it work. I love writing so I try to find time for it, this has always helped me.
● Connect with others: Don’t isolate yourself, keep in touch with your family, make friends with like-minded people, join safe communities, volunteer for social work, and find good mentors that inspire you. There’s nothing better than a great support system.
● Get ahead in your academics: Start early, attend classes, take notes, participate in class discussions, join study groups, and build healthy relationships with your colleagues and lecturers. Keep track of assignments, deadlines, and exams. Create a study schedule
and stick to it, manage your time, and break down large tasks into smaller ones. Take regular breaks while studying to refresh your mind and prevent burnout. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck.

The system is in dire need of a total revamp but until the day that comes, we have to do all we can to survive. Find a process that works for you and stick to it, you will be fine. Happy resumption!

• Our Educational system is broken.
• Majority of University students are stressed.
• Reasons why students struggle.
• Easy tips that can help students cope with stress in universities.

Great Erhazele

Great Erhazele is a health writer, poet, and physician-in-training from southern Nigeria. An introverted type, he started his writing journey at a tender age, writing short stories for school plays, and has now graduated to compelling articles for the wellness industry. He has written several pieces of content for different publications and aims to write more. Besides writing, he is also a medical volunteer for various humanitarian organizations, and a part-time photographer.