How to Manage Stress as a Student
College and university students lead busy lives with many academic, social, personal, and work responsibilities. Having so much to do can pull you in multiple directions, making you feel tense and stressed. It’s therefore no surprise that stress is seen as a definitive attribute of higher education.
Yet, stress presents some major health risks. For instance, it’s been linked to headaches, sleep disturbances, restlessness, upset stomach, fatigue, and irritability, among other issues. Moreover, symptoms of existing conditions can be worsened by stress, including asthma, anxiety, and depression.
While it may not be possible to avoid stress altogether as a student, there are effective coping strategies you can try. Explore some tactics for handling your biggest stressors below.
Find a Physical Outlet
Physical activity is an excellent way to alleviate stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones which relax the body and mind. Regular exercise also affects dopamine levels, increasing feelings of happiness and tranquility and counteracting stress and depression.
Walking, cycling, jogging, and yoga are all simple, convenient stress-busting exercises students can do in their spare time. Physical outlets are even more beneficial when paired with mental outlets, such as journaling, gardening, playing videogames, or painting.
Organization can reduce and often prevent stress. Prioritizing, making lists, keeping a steady schedule, and living in a clean, organized environment fosters mental clarity. Additionally, it can help you avoid high-pressure situations, such as needing to cram for a test or complete an assignment in short amount of time. Here are a few things you can do to get organized and relieve stress:
- Maintain a prioritized schedule with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks
- Create a list of short-term and long-term goals
- Organize your room into three zones: 1) sleeping, 2) reading and studying, and 3) entertainment (unless you live in one of the student rentals Oshawa has to offer, in which case you can use each room for its intended purpose)
- Put items in their place each night before you go to bed
- Plan out large assignments and complete them in steps
A support system provides outlets for stress. Venting frustrations and anxieties to friends, family, an advisor, counselor, or even a professor can provide relief and help you find new perspectives for challenging issues. Moreover, friends and family offer social interactions which can release dopamine and prompt calmness, along with feelings of love and care. These feelings are instant stress relievers. You may also find this type of support from connections or relationships you’ve established in a fraternity or sorority, social club, or sports team. Of course, if you’re feeling extremely stressed, you can always visit your school’s mental health centre.
Meditate and Think Positively
Thinking positive thoughts can help you navigate many challenges. For example, it can calm you before a major exam or during an argument with your romantic partner. Yet, to be effective, positive thinking must be practiced throughout the day and combined with positive affirmations or meditation. Repeating positive affirmations has many benefits, including:
- Boosting confidence
- Improving perspectives on complicated situations
- Helping you develop and maintain a positive outlook
Meditation facilitates positive thinking through mantras. A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase that’s uttered repetitively to quiet the mind and calms the nervous system. When your mind is quiet, stress virtually washes away. While mantras are often used during meditation, you can repeat your mantra throughout the day to keep stress at bay as needed. You can also practice guided meditations using online videos in your spare time. Or, try some simple, deep breathing for quick relief.
Keep a Journal
Writing down negative thoughts and feelings can minimize their impact. Thus, journaling is an effective stress reliever that gets your feelings instead of keeping them locked in. This is an especially useful practice for anyone who may prefer not to discuss their stressors openly but would still like a healthy outlet for managing them.
If you’ve been struggling with stress, now’s a great time to start putting some of these tips into practice to find the solution you need.