How to Manage and Reduce Stress as a College Student

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How to Manage and Reduce Stress as a College Student

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Students are one of the most common victims of stress.  Financial expenses, family expectations, deadlines and workloads are all factors liable to induce stress within the students population. While a mild amount of stress has been proven very useful and to act as a motivator for students, too much stress can interfere with their daily lives.  Stress built over time can create other serious problems such depression and anxiety within someone.  There are several skills such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga that can teach you how to cope with stress and anxiety in a healthy way and managing it in its early stages can help maximize the collegiate experience and opportunities for affected students.

As educational requirements become more stringent in all levels of education, students everywhere experience considerable school stress. This stress can affect performance on tests, participation in classes, and the wellbeing of students everywhere. Therefore, it’s vital for all students to have a collection of effective stress management techniques that work as all students experience some amount of stress throughout their lifetime and especially their college career.

Manage Time Wisely

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to work on your studies if you want to do well, and you can save yourself a lot of stress if you plan ahead with good time management skills.  Setting up a schedule for studying, breaking up your studies into smaller chunks, and other time management skills are essential for success. 

Planning your time will help during big exams or assignments coming up … Make a day-by-day calendar, planning one to three hour blocks of study or work for each assessment,  and including breaks.  Put it on the wall or have it on your computer desktop, and try your best to maintain it.  Try to set small goals for yourself and have a reward prepared for hitting them!

Get Organized

Having a system of organization for note-taking, keeping track of assignments, and other important papers can bring you the peace of mind that comes from knowing where everything is, remembering deadlines and test dates, and clearing your mind of some of the mental clutter that disorganization can bring.

Keep a calendar, a schedule, and/or a filing system for your school assignments, and you may find that it prevents a significant amount of stress throughout your daily life!

Practice Visualizations

You can reduce stress as a student and improve test performance by imagining yourself achieving your goals.  Take a few minutes each day and visualize, in detail, what you’d like to happen, whether it’s giving a presentation without getting nervous, acing an exam, or something else that will support your success.  Then work hard and make it happen! 

Develop Optimism

It’s been proven that positive thinkers and dreamers are overall healthier, less stressed, and more successful. While some level of optimism is inborn, optimism is a state that can be practiced, and your overall levels of optimism can increase as a result.  Also, try to keep things in perspective.  While exams and assignments are very important, try to remember that the world won’t end if you don’t do as well as you’d like.  Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t let anybody pressure you.

Get Enough Sleep

If you want your school performance to be optimum, you need to be well-rested.  Research shows that those who are sleep-deprived have more trouble learning and remembering, and perform more poorly in many areas.  You can also be more reactive to stress when you are sleep-deprived, so there are many reasons to focus on getting quality sleep each night. 

Students are notoriously busy and sleep-deprived, so you may need to go against the grain at times in order to protect your sleep schedule.  Try to work your schedule to where you get enough sleep or are able to have the time to take quick naps in between important classes or study sessions.

Use Stress Management Techniques

Chronic stress can actually impair your ability to learn and remember facts as well, stress management is one of the most important–and most overlooked–school necessities.  A regular stress management practice can reduce your overall stress level and help you to be prepared for whatever comes. The more you identify and practice techniques that work for you now, the more prepared you will be to cope with the challenges you face throughout your life.

A few known stress relievers, such as aromatherapy and massage therapy are prime for reducing stress.  Peppermint essential oil is said to wake up your brain and playing classical music is said to soothe you and help you learn as you study.  Creating a soothing environment can reduce stress as well ashelp you learn.  It is also important to know whether you are a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner, as you can tailor your study practices around your particular learning style and make success easier to attain. 

Practice These Techniques

If you feel yourself getting stressed out or anxious, a good thing to do is close your eyes and take long, slow, deep breaths.  Mindfulness techniques are usually recommended to relieve stress and help with focus.  Mindfulness is the practice of resting your mind and body by focusing on the present moment and can be extremely helpful for any state or place you are in.  There are a few great apps as well as podcasts that can help you learn fast and easy mindfulness and meditation techniques that can be applied almost anytime and anywhere.

When you know and practice specific study skills, your entire school experience becomes easier.  Learning to stay focused with tasks and organized with your study schedule, for example, can enable you to get more done when you study.  Many of these skills transfer into productivity skills in your career, so they are important to know now as well as in the future.  Here are some more specific study skills and techniques that can help you improve your performance. 

Do Something you Love and Find Balance

If you feel extremely stressed out, take a break and do something you love. Whether it is painting or listening to music, doing something you enjoy can cheer up your mood and distract you from a stressor.  A general rule of thumb is to moderate your workload and avoid taking on too much. Following the tips above can ensure you find and maintain a good balance in your academic life.

Keeping your food and beverages healthy or even just making small decisions to create a healthier style of living will more than likely benefit you and decrease your anxiety.  One pertinent example, that I practice daily and experience positive results with, is cutting out soda in my life and decreasing my intake in coffee.  My reduction in caffeine alone has significantly improved my quality of life, not just through a decrease in my own anxiety.  Staying healthy and caring for yourself is extremely important for managing stress and anxiety.  Eat regular, healthy meals, get at least eight hours sleep a night, and try to exercise regularly.

Don’t ever forget that you are not alone.  While some students may put on a poker face with this topic, many are more than likely feeling the same stress that you are.  Ask a friend to meet up for study sessions or even coffee to help each other learn and cope.  One of my greatest weaknesses is definitely reaching for the phone and asking for help.  While it makes me feel weak asking, I have always felt better after.  Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Make an appointment at your school’s medical center, ask student services if there’s a counselor in your area you could begin to see, or visit a doctor or other health professional and ask what steps you should make next.


3 Comments

Natashya Santosa

Natashya Santosa

January 28, 2019at 11:50 pm

I love this. I feel like this issue needs to be headlined more often. A lot of people do not know what it’s like to juggle school and work and sometimes school alone is too much as it is. I really like that you took the time to research and write about this common issue and I hope this can help more students like it did for me. I’m always looking for new ways to destress and love reading/hearing/learning about how others deal with their stress. Great read!

Xunxian Gui

Xunxian Gui

January 29, 2019at 12:38 am

When reading your article, I’ve learned a lot about how to reduce stress. As college students, we not only have course work to do but also have part-time jobs. How to manage our time and stress is really important. If we don’t get things organized, we may live struggling lives and won’t be able to achieve any goals. Thanks for sharing with us!

Katie Arnold

Katie Arnold

January 29, 2019at 8:43 pm

I thought this was a great read. I myself have struggled alot with stress since coming to college and have had my times with anxiety. Coming up with a plan for myself to deal with this is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I got a dog actually, because I was really bad at taking breaks. I love this dog with all my heart and it has forced me to take breaks every few hours and go on walks and take him to play. It was a really good strategy for me to kinda force myself to step back from work. and whenever you have a bad day it really helps to have a wagging tail, dogs are always excited to see you. Everyone has their own ways of managing but this has worked really well for me.

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