College is one of the most fun and enjoyable times of life, but it’s not all parties and football games.
Studying for exams, living on a tight budget, working a part-time job, and living apart from family are also parts of the typical college student’s life. And when you put all those things together, it’s easy to see why so many college students feel stressed.
If you’re a college student suffering from stress, it’s essential to take measures to ease it rather than ignore it and let it worsen.
Ready to learn how?
Here are some ways that college students can take care of themselves when they’re feeling stressed out.
Get Some Sleep
Anxious about an upcoming exam?
Pulling an all-nighter to study may seem like the right thing to do, but it’s actually more beneficial to close the books and get a good night’s sleep.
We need sleep, at least seven hours per night, for the body to function properly. Sleep restores our brains, improves our mood, mental health, and reduces anxiety and stress. A lack of sleep does the exact opposite.
Learn to Meditate
Meditation forces you to focus your attention on breathing, and deep breathing is one of the best ways to ease anxiety and stress.
By learning a few basic deep breathing techniques, you can calm your mind, relieve stress, and regain focus so you can be more productive.
Another way to relieve stress is to boost your endorphins, and you can do so with regular exercise.
Endorphins are naturally occurring hormones created in the brain that, when released, make you feel happy. They also help to decrease tension levels and stabilize your mood.
All types of physical activity and exercise help the brain to produce endorphins. Exercise also helps promote better sleeping habits, so a simple workout packs a one-two punch against unwanted stress.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by stress, grab your college ID and head to the rec center or gym. Run or jog around campus. Grab a few friends and shoot hoops, play softball, or go head-to-head in a tennis match.
Dancing is also a great form of exercise, so if you don’t feel like heading out, put on your favorite tunes and dance around your dorm room!
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
As a college student, it’s easy to rely on a diet of pizza, fast food, soda, and sugary late-night snacks. But if you’re dealing with stress, those food choices won’t help at all.
The expression “you are what you eat” isn’t just some old cliché. Eating healthy meals and snacks promotes a fitter body, better organ function, and a healthier brain. With a poor diet, all those things will suffer.
Certain foods boost serotonin, a hormone that calms the brain. Other foods reduce the amount of the cortisol hormone, which is known to elevate stress.
For a serotonin boost, eat more complex carbs, such as whole-grain bread and oatmeal. To reduce cortisol levels, snack on oranges, eat more fatty fish such as tuna and salmon and drink black tea.
Find an Outlet for Stress
No matter what year of school you’re in or what course of study you’re pursuing, you cannot work and study all the time. You need (and deserve) to spend a portion of your time doing things that you enjoy.
Carve out time, even if it’s only an hour per day, to do something you love. That might be playing music or painting. Perhaps it’s reading or sewing. Maybe it’s kickboxing or lifting weights. Whatever you enjoy doing, making time to pursue your interests is an excellent way to combat stress.
If there’s a club on campus for a hobby that you love, join it! Sometimes socializing with friends is all it takes to focus on something other than the things that are stressing you out.
Learn to Think Positively
Stress and anxiety can be mild or severe, and in some cases, they can lead to depression. You cannot afford to let stress overwhelm and overtake your life. It’s crucial that you get it under control before it develops into something worse.
One thing that you can do anytime, anywhere, is practice positive self-talk. Positive thinking reduces stress by counteracting negative self-talk, which increases stress levels.
Positive self-talk helps you build confidence and believe in yourself. With positive affirmations and positive thinking, you can overcome all sorts of challenges in life.
Ask for Help
We all have stressed throughout our lives, and most of us learn coping mechanisms to deal with everyday stress levels. But when we experience high levels of stress that prevent us from achieving our goals, our usual coping mechanisms sometimes aren’t enough.
It’s important to know your own mind and body. If you’re battling more stress than you know how to handle, it might be time to seek out help.
Never feel afraid to ask for help. For some people, talking with family or friends is enough to get them through a stressful time. For others, the expertise of a medical professional is a better option.
Most colleges have student resources that can help with all sorts of mental health issues. Seek the help of a professional counselor, a licensed therapist, or even a peer counseling group. Sometimes fellow students that understand what you’re going through can be a great support system.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to ignore the stress. Instead, make a plan to combat it and learn how to fight it going forward.
If you’re a college student dealing with stress, here’s what you need to do:
- Improve your sleep habits
- Learn deep breathing techniques and practice meditation
- Exercise and do more physical activity
- Develop healthy eating habits
- Carve out time for hobbies and personal interests
- Learn positive self-talk
- Ask for help
Learning these skills as a college student won’t just make your college days better. Learning how to handle stress in college will benefit you well beyond graduation and throughout all phases of your life.
About Adam Marshal
A freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech Bowling Green to help them with their online marketing.