There are two different types of stress, first is the negative one most people think of when hearing the word stress; which comes from a feeling of overwhelm and a sense of being overloaded to the point that we question our ability to perform as we need to perform – to the point it lowers our self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and can cause anxiety related conditions along with depression.

Then, on the other side of the coin there is eustress, which is a more beneficial and positive type of stress; the type of stress you might feel, for instance, just before going on stage to do a presentation.

The question is, whether your course is causing you negative stress that is damaging to your emotional, mental and physical health – or is it more positive stress, that is associated with the feeling of growth and your perceived limitations being stretched.

If you think about it, the only way we grow, is to be put under stress – after all, think of how a muscle grows and builds stronger.  It has to be put under stress, to the point of failure where it tears a little, so that it can then heal and grow back stronger.

Education is much the same.  However, there are safe limits to keep in mind with this, just as there are when it comes to weight lifting.

See, whether your trying to pass the IELTS in order to improve your career prospects, or are in the midst of an open university degree, the point remains – if the stress you are feeling is something that is positively impacting your life (i.e. it’s pushing you to succeed) then that’s fine, but if it’s detrimental to your progress, happiness, health and wellness then that’s not okay, and it’s something that needs to be dealt with.

Here are three great ways to address the situation if your course is causing you negative stress.


All too often, we keep our feelings bottled up; but unfortunately, this becomes a pressure cooker that at some point will explode.  It’s important to talk about your feelings whether that’s to a tutor, a friend, or someone else that can be supportive.

The mistake people often make is they complain about the situation rather than talk to someone that can actually help.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed then reducing your workload might be the answer to your problems.  Many colleges, universities and online course providers appreciate the impact of stress, particularly if compounded by other mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression; therefore, it’s important to speak to someone about the challenges you’re facing and ask for a reduction in workload – for instance, an extension on submitting a piece of work, to allow you to catch your breath.


If your personal circumstances are such that you aren’t in the right place, in terms of your life circumstances to be completing a course, there is often the option to intercalate – which normally means you return to the course next year, hopefully when things are better in your personal life.