College can be a stressful time. If stress piles up, it can affect your mental health, your physical health, and even your grades. Students who struggle with stress are also more likely to deal with depression, and anxiety, so it’s important to get a handle on stress and learn to manage it effectively.
What Causes Student Stress?
There are a lot of demands on the time of a student. You have your classes, your homework, the extracurricular activities you know you need for your resume, and your social life to juggle. You might have a part-time job to squeeze in too.
The transition of changing to college can pile on the stress too. Moving out of home and learning to live independently can be a steep learning curve. Making new friends can be tough too, which only adds to your worries.
Top 10 Tips To Manage Stress
- Sleep. Students over miss sleep, whether they’re staying up late for a party or to finish a paper. Unfortunately, operating on little sleep isn’t good for you. You’ll be less productive which will make it harder for you to learn. Your mental health will suffer too, and you’ll find it harder to manage stress. Make sure you get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a night, and take a power nap if you need it. You can learn more about getting more and better sleep at NightNod.
- Try visualizations. Guided imagery can be an effective tool for some people, and it’s easy to do. You can use this technique to help you calm down in a stressful situation, and detach from whatever is causing you stress. Use this to calm down when studying for exams, preparing for presentations, and when waiting outside exam halls. Visualize yourself doing well and you’ll feel more confident.
- Get some exercise. Regular exercise is a healthy way to blow off steam. Try to fit exercise in your schedule with things like doing yoga first thing in the morning, walking or cycling to class, or meeting your friends at the gym or the pool after class. The endorphins released during exercise are a great stress reliever. Getting into the habit of making exercise a part of your life will stand you in good stead for better health later on in life too.
- Learn breathing techniques. When your body is experiencing a stress response, you won’t be thinking as clearly as you normally do. The fastest way to calm down is to practice some breathing exercises. The advantage of these exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere and can be used to relieve stress very quickly. Take a few moments to breathe slowly and deeply. You can do this before, or even, during exams, or at any other time that you find stress overwhelming.
- Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation. If stress is making it hard for you to sleep or relax, then this trick can work very well. Stress can make you feel tense, and physically ‘wound up’. Progressive Muscle Relaxation, or PMR, is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing all your muscles until your body feels completely relaxed. After some practice, you’ll be able to release the stress from your body very quickly. It’s particularly useful for students, as it can used to promote deeper sleep, which can be very handy the night before a big test when you can’t sleep.
- Listen to music. A handy way to relieve stress is to listen to music. Music can calm you down, and stimulate your mind. Play classical music while studying, play something upbeat to start your day in a positive way, and play slow songs to relax. Listen to your music before exams, while studying, or while walking around campus to keep your mood upbeat and relaxed.
- Get organized. Clutter can cause stress and stress makes you less productive. Students often live in cluttered spaces, with no clear area to study. If your clutter levels are distracting you from studying, your grades will suffer. Try to keep at least your study area tidy so it’s free of distractions. A tidy space can keep your stress levels low and will save you time looking for books, a pen, or whatever else you need that you’ve buried under clutter. Taking the time to keep your workspace tidy is worth the effort so you can focus better.
- Eat a healthy diet. What you eat can boost your brainpower, or drain your mental energy. A healthy diet might be the most obvious way to release stress or help you study better but actually, it is effective at both. If your diet is balanced, you’ll be less to experience mood swings and energy crashes.
- Ask for help. If you’re struggling to cope with anything at college, whether stress or your workload, ask for help. Colleges will have resources available for students who need some support, whether that’s talking to a teacher you trust or using student services. Find out if your college has a counselor available for you to see. If your workload is the problem, speak to your teachers as soon as possible before the problem snowballs. If you just need someone to speak to about your worries, reach out to your friends. It’s likely that they’re experiencing some of the same worries about the college experience that you do, so talking about it is probably going to helpful for both of you.
- Give yourself a break. You can’t study all the time, and it’s important to give yourself time to relax and give your brain a break. Fit something into your schedule, even if it’s something small. Take a break for a coffee and a chapter of a book you enjoy. Watch a movie. Go for a swim. Go for lunch with a friend. Play is almost as important as work, and giving yourself a break is an important part of managing your stress levels.
Stress doesn’t have to cause you problems at college if you learn to manage it in a smart way.