Most college students go through stress and depression due to the uncertainties that schoolwork, relationships, and social life precipitate. This is a time in a young person’s life when money is hardest to come by yet the expenses are many and demanding. It is also a period when people try to figure out what they really want to do with their lives and who they want to be. It is, indeed, a trying time that can gravely affect the physical and emotional health of a young college student.
That being said, it is important to note that while low degrees of stress can be beneficial to a student, motivating them to study hard in the run-up to an exam, excessive stress can lead to depression, reduced productivity, anxiety, and many other negative physical and mental effects.
Here are 6 tips to stress management during your college life.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Insufficient sleep is among the biggest contributors of serious illnesses such as depression, obesity, and diabetes. If you sleep for less than 7 hours a day, you are at a higher risk of suffering from these diseases — and being unhealthy has a spiral effect of exacerbating your stress levels.
Lack of sleep also contributes to low productivity during the day. When you’re excessively tired, it can be a struggle to keep on top of school work. You’re more likely to doze off during class and have a hard time finding the energy to socialize and participate in extracurricular activities.
By getting on a steady sleep schedule, you’ll feel more energized and focused during the day, making it easier to stay on top of your studies and your friendships.
2. Be Self-Disciplined
College life is different from high school life in that you will be on your own — no parents or teachers or big siblings to monitor your life and make sure you get to school on time.
When it comes to managing your time, you’re on your own. That means if you don’t want to show up for class, no one is going to stop you from skipping. But as you enjoy life, college assignments will keep piling up and there’s no getting out of required exams. If you aren’t self-disciplined, you’ll constantly be struggling to keep up, which will eventually lead to unimaginable stress and, potentially, a failing grade.
So hold yourself accountable. Set an alarm each morning for class and come prepared to learn.
3. Don’t Procrastinate
The more you wait to do your fundamental duties, the more stress you invite into your life. Don’t wait until the week before it’s due to start that school project. Putting off tasks and choosing to goof off instead can be the undoing of any college student.
Imagine waiting until the last minute to write a research paper and having to spend the entire night writing instead of sleeping. Or, if you are planning to study abroad, waiting until the last minute to apply for a student visa only to miss the deadline.
Stay ahead of things and save yourself unnecessary stress. Mark important deadlines on your calendar and check completed projects off your list to help motivate you.
4. Find Emotional Support
If you’re having trouble dealing with the culture shock that comes with college entry, it’s important to find emotional support from trusted friends and family. Keeping frustrations to yourself will do you more harm than good in your fight against stress.
If all your friends are judgmental or poor listeners or simply not able to provide you with the support you need, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Most colleges offer counselors and other trained professionals to students struggling with stress, anxiety, and other issues. Make an appointment and start alleviating your college stress.
5. Eat Right and Exercise
For most students, maintaining a balanced diet can be a challenge. From vending machine runs between classes to late night pizza orders during cram sessions, it’s easy to get off-track, but it’s important that you take steps to eat healthy. Remember that depriving your body of important nutrients and eating excessive sugar and carbohydrates can cause unnecessary fatigue and tiredness during the day. This affects your productivity negatively which in turn leads to stress.
The next time you head to the dining hall, consider having a salad instead of french fries with your meal. It’s also a good idea to keep some healthy snacks on hand in your dorm or apartment. That way when those late-night cravings strike, you’ll have something healthier than a candy bar to eat.
Similarly, exercising regularly has a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Exercising is a good way of managing anxiety and reducing stress. And, as you probably know already, feeling healthy and strong physically boosts your self-esteem, which is very important for a healthy brain. Visit your campus gym a couple times a week or look into taking some classes like zumba or yoga. Most school’s offer these free to students or as part of the fees you already pay to attend college.
6. Take a Walk
It’s easy to spend the whole day in bed when you’re in despair. But that’ll only make things worse. The best thing to do is to go out and explore your neighborhood. Not only will the fresh air help to reinvigorate you, but who knows what hidden gems you may discover?
If you’re studying abroad and worried about getting lost, consider signing up for a free tour. Not only will this give you a refreshing feeling, but it will also help you get familiar with your new home away from home.
About Lisa Mottins: Lisa is a young, ambitious writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCF. She is currently learning to code and developing her photography skills. She loves expressing herself creatively and sharing her experiences in hopes of helping others.