Stress: Is It Really Mind Over Matter?

By Ruby Simmons

Transitioning into university can be an extremely stressful time in your life, with 80% of students experiencing psychological stress, and one fifth of these living with a more serious mental health issue.  Each student will experience stress differently, but what health psychologists have found, is that students with high-self efficacy tend to either experience less life stress, or respond to stress with positive coping techniques.

Don’t know what self-efficacy is? Neither did I until I had to write an essay on it (#unilife). Self-efficacy is the belief that one has about their own abilities. It differs from self-esteem and confidence as it is about specifically believing that you can complete your goals which will then result in a desired response.

High-self efficacy is a key ingredient if you want to get through university with relatively low stress and with a higher sense of wellbeing.

Not feeling too high on the ol’ self-efficacy scale at the moment? That’s okay. While some of your self-efficacy is developed in childhood, you can still boost your self-efficacy through some self-help tasks.

Read more: How to Achieve a Great Work and Study Balance

1. Recognise your successes, however small!

Self-efficacy is partly developed by success. It’s like that thing: if someone says something negative about you, you’ll remember it forever – if someone complements you on something, it’s quickly forgotten. Stop that! Next time you succeed in something, no matter how small, reflect on it, let it soak in. Pat yourself on the back. Self-efficacy is partly developed by success and at UTS:Careers, we have little Achievement Books for that very reason.

2. Put your self-doubting thoughts in a box and close the lid. Then Sellotape the lid shut.

An extended metaphor but you get the gist. Everyone has self-doubts and negative thoughts that creep in and taunt them, it’s normal. Accept that you have these thoughts, recognise them, but then lock them up. This is the opposite type of thinking you need to improve your self-efficacy and don’t let those sneaky, devil thoughts stop you from achieving your goals.

Read more: How to Manage Stress in the Workplace

3. Remember that time at school when you handed in your homework on time? Glorious.

Reminisce on your past successes and remember how you did it, what you did to get there and how you can use those techniques to complete your current goals. Most importantly, what do your previous successes tell you about your ability to achieve? Does it show that you’re actually quite determined when you need to be, that you’re committed and you have the ability to complete tasks? Thought so.

Self-efficacy is one of the most important predictors of behaviour. Increase your self-efficacy and you will have a better chance of improving your wellbeing and reducing your stress while you’re at university. Which obviously leaves more time for the more important stuff:


Ruby Simmons was the Marketing, Communications and Event Officer at UTS:Careers, and is currently studying Psychology. Her background is in public relations and marketing, and she’s passionate about content creation and ensuring students are as employable as possible

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.


Author: Guest Contributor

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