Help and support
Confidential 24/7 helpline
A free confidential helpline provides emotional support and practical guidance by phone 24/7, 365 days a year. It is staffed by trained counsellors and legal advisors.
Visit confidential helpline for more information
Help with cost of living
If you are looking for information, guidance or support in relation to the increased cost of living or other financial matters, visit the dedicated help with cost of living webpages.
Occupational health - self referral
You can self-refer for counselling to the University Occupational Health team.Telephone and online counselling are available through our partnership with Health Assured as part of our employee assistance programme. Further information about these services and how to access them can be found on the counselling page
The Multifaith Chaplaincy is here to offer companionship and spiritual care to all members of the University. We work with students and staff, UK and international, people from any faith tradition, or no faith at all.
Online guidance and support
The Health Assured portal provides a wide range of information and practical guidance across a range of areas from emotional and physical health to 'life support' (for example, relationships, bereavement) and work life.
Am I stressed?
Mind, the mental health charity, provides the following guidance on recognising stress:
We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you're feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.
How you might feel
- irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
- anxious, nervous or afraid
- like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off
- unable to enjoy yourself
- uninterested in life
- like you've lost your sense of humour
- a sense of dread
- worried about your health
- neglected or lonely.
How you might behave
- finding it hard to make decisions
- constantly worrying
- avoiding situations that are troubling you
- snapping at people
- biting your nails
- picking at your skin
- unable to concentrate
- eating too much or too little
- smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
- restless, like you can't sit still
- being tearful or crying.
How you might be physically affected
- shallow breathing or hyperventilating
- you might have a panic attack
- muscle tension
- blurred eyesight or sore eyes
- problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
- sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
- tired all the time
- grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
- chest pains
- high blood pressure
- indigestion or heartburn
- constipation or diarrhoea
- feeling sick, dizzy or fainting.
Further information can be found on the Mind website.
Coping with the immediate effects of stress
Talk to someone
Whilst many of us might pride ourselves in our ability to 'cope', it is advisable to speak to someone when you are experiencing stress. Oxford Brookes have an Employee Assistance Programme that provides access to trained counsellors as well as other resources as well as in-house counsellors in the Occupational Health team.
See the 'Getting support, guidance or counselling' section above for more information.
You are also encouraged to speak to your line manager, especially if there are work related factors involved.
It may sound overly simple, but breathing exercises are one of the best ways to deal with the immediate effects of stress. It helps to 'cool down' our nervous system which is basically what is creating the feelings and symptoms we experience. This helps us to then be able to better focus on dealing with the underying issues. You can do these techniques wherever or whenever you feel the effects of stress, worry or anxiety:
- Square or Box breathing - this YouTube video on square breathing can help you to develop the practice.
- Five Finger Breathing - watch this TED video which can help you to develop the practice.
Meditation and mindfulnesss
You might also find meditation or mindfulness useful. The following links take you to some resources designed to help with stress management:
Tips for managing pressure
There are various steps you can take to cope with being under pressure which some people find useful, but it's important to remember that different things work for different people. Only try what you feel comfortable with.
- Identify your triggers* - Working out what may trigger stress can help you prepare for it. Even if you can't avoid these situations, being prepared can help.
- Organise your time - Changing the way we organise our time can help us feel more in control.
- Address some of the causes - If you can, let people know if their demands are unreasonable or unrealistic or ask someone if they can help.
- Accept the things you can't change.
Mental health charity Mind's website gives further advice and tips on:
- managing stress and pressure
- trauma (stressful or frightening events that may be difficult to talk about)
*Reflecting on these things may sometimes be upsetting. If remembering or talking about these experiences makes you feel worse, you can stop.
Increasing personal effectiveness and resilience
The University runs a range of courses and e-learning linked to wellbeing and resilience. Visit the wellbeing and resilience section of Staff Learning to find out more.
See the stress management section for more advice and guidance on stress.