College is an exciting time full of new opportunities, but with these opportunities comes some stressful times as well. Whether you’re nervous about the show you’re going to perform in, the game you're going to play in, or the test you’re going to hand in, small amounts of stress and anxiety have become a normal part of college life. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 60% of students reported difficulties handling anxiety and stress. Below are some tips to reduce stress for college students.
1. Exercise often
Exercising throughout your day can help boost your mood and relieve stress. This is because physical activity produces feel-good chemicals known as endorphins that help reduce the physical symptoms of stress. Performing a physical activity also improves your quality of sleep, which has a big impact on your stress levels. You can invite your friends to the rec center or for a walk around campus to enjoy these benefits with you. It really doesn't matter what activity you choose to participate in as long as you're staying healthy.
2. Limit your caffeine intake
Even though getting ice coffee has become part of your morning routine, it doesn’t exactly improve your college health. Caffeine and stress are linked together. Therefore, monitoring and limiting your caffeine intake is a very important step in lowering your daily stress levels. Some caffeine is okay, and it can even give your mood a lift. If you find yourself consuming coffee, tea, soft drinks, or energy drinks more than a few times a day, try swapping in a glass of water.
3. Get adequate sleep
Feeling stressed can disrupt the way you sleep. Not sleeping well can increase your stress as a result. You can help improve the quality of your sleep by implementing the two tips above: exercising and avoiding caffeine. However, the quantity of your sleep matters as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that teenagers and young adults get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Getting the proper amount of sleep can also improve your mood and help you become more productive throughout the day.
4. Try to eat balanced meals
What you eat can have an effect on your mood. Although the Dairy Queen or McDonalds down the road are very convenient, eating fast food doesn’t help eliminate stress as much as consuming healthy foods can. Oranges, spinach, fish, almonds, and avocados are all foods that can help tame stress. Of course, some of these foods can cost more than a candy bar or cheeseburger. To help curb some of the cost, consider making dinner at home or in your dorm’s kitchen. First, use our tips for saving money when grocery shopping.
5. Set small goals for yourself
When you have a large task, such as a mid-term paper looming over you, you may manage your time poorly. You may work on other assignments and fulfill your social life before even thinking about starting the paper. The easiest way to combat this issue is to set small goals for yourself. By breaking down the big task into bite-sized portions, it becomes much easier to accomplish the task. If your paper is due next Wednesday, you can get the title page and introduction done today. That way, you have a few days to focus on the body, conclusions, and citations. Setting small goals for yourself makes it easy to avoid procrastination and eliminates unnecessary stress.
6. Express Your Emotions
How you acknowledge and process your emotions directly affects your stress and anxiety levels. If you keep these feelings bottled up inside over time, it can lead to chronic stress, the feeling of constant pressure and being overwhelmed. You can help avoid these long-term side effects by utilizing a support system. Whether you call a friend to discuss your feelings or write down your thoughts in a journal, getting your emotions outside of your head gives you time to process them and takes a huge weight off your shoulders.
7. Have a Personal Sanctuary
Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should take a little bit of time to yourself. Going to a personal sanctuary is a great way to get rid of many types of stress. A personal sanctuary is a safe place to turn to and is unique to you; it allows you to take a deep breath and relax, and it doesn’t have to be far away. Your dorm room or apartment can function as a personal sanctuary. You could light some candles or purchase some decorations for your sanctuary. Although those touches aren’t absolutely necessary, the items help with personalization and forming a connection. Allowing yourself this time and space to be alone and refocus is very beneficial to both your mental and physical health. Try and spend at least 20 minutes relaxing in your sanctuary every day; you’ll be surprised how much energy you have!
8. Ask for help
Most colleges have resources to help you through your stressful times. If you are experiencing academic stress, peers and upperclassmen who have been through the class before are usually willing to tutor you. You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask your professors questions in class or during their office hours if you have any. Chances are that if you’re unsure, another student may have the same question. If you’re experiencing mental, emotional, or any other kind of stress, most colleges have a counseling center that is available to students. Sometimes just talking to another person can relieve some of the headache that stress inflicts.
9. Schedule some “me” time
Because college has an overabundant amount of opportunities, usually students want to try and participate in them all. Although it is great to put yourself out there and meet new students, you might not be able to physically join every club or sport that you would like to on campus. Even if it just so happened that you could make it to every single meeting, you would most likely be stretching yourself too thin. It’s important to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge in order to perform your very best in school. You will also be more effective if you are picky about the clubs and organizations that you want to be a part of because you’ll have more time and energy to dedicate to a fewer number of clubs.
After you’ve learned these stress management tips for college students, you’ll be ready to conquer your next semester. Although there will be times where you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, remembering these tips will help you recover even faster than before. When you take care of your body and your mind, you will be able to perform better in class and in life. Take advantage of all the exciting events, activities, and people you will meet during your years of higher education, but don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too.
😱Thinking about your future can be stressful. Prepare by reading 5 Money Moves to Make Before Graduating College.
🍟Grabbing fast food between classes can be tempting. Instead, try these 9 Tips on How to Eat Healthy in College.