April is Stress Awareness Month, which is a good time for college students to take a deep breath and remind themselves that everyone encounters challenging times in life—it’s all how you react and manage them. This national effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress is sponsored by The Health Resource Network, a nonprofit health education organization.
Everyone knows that college is fun but also stressful.
College demands a lot and requires you to juggle many responsibilities, all while you’re working toward your future career (and maybe holding down a job, too). The reality is that you’re going to face stressful times as a college student. Rather than panic before every big test or project or live in a state of constant anxiety, it’s worthwhile to learn how to manage stress in a healthy way. Here are eight practical tips to deal with stress effectively.
1. Manage your time wisely.
One of the big culprits of stress for college students is a feeling of imbalance because of a heavy workload. Get into good time management habits to avoid procrastination and make the most of your minutes. Develop a detailed schedule for each day that blocks out time for classes, homework, and studying as well as any personal tasks—and stick to that schedule.
2. Get the right amount of sleep each night.
It’s a scientific fact that chronic sleep deprivation causes anxiety and makes it harder for you to concentrate and be productive. Make sleep a priority. Your brain will feel clearer and you’ll feel better overall.
3. Break down big tasks into smaller steps.
This goes hand in hand with managing your time. Huge projects or other to-dos can create stress, but dividing those projects into manageable chunks and assigning due dates to each of those milestones will make you feel in control and help you avoid spinning your wheels when you sit down to work.
4. Find ways to calm yourself down.
Looming deadlines, difficult class material, or an overflowing plate can each cause panic to creep into the brain. It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed or overly upset and have access to a few reliable methods to calm yourself down and feel better. Try yoga, meditation, and visualization techniques. If you need help dealing with debilitating anxiety or stress, reach out to the counseling center at your college. That’s what they’re there for!
5. Take time for fun.
Get outside, join a club that sounds enjoyable, go to the gym or on a hike, or meet a friend for coffee. Smiles and laughter do a body good, increasing endorphins that the brain releases and relaxing tight muscles (no, really).
6. Talk with other students.
Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling nervous about that upcoming test or project. Sometimes, bonding with your peers is a good way to feel better about what’s in front of you. That’s not to say that talking to a friend will reduce your to-do list, but it can ease anxiety to know that you’re not alone.
7. Take care of your life.
Sure, you’re a student, but you’re also a human being with relationships and responsibilities outside of school. Give those things the attention they deserve. Your stress will remain high if you ignore some of the other things you need to take care of in life: paying bills, tidying your home, and organizing your study space. Keeping a good handle on those things will make you feel more on top of your life and more focused when you do turn your attention to school work.
8. Take care of YOU.
We already mentioned the importance of sleep, but you cannot be at the top of your game if you’re running on empty all the time. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat right, strive to achieve a good work/life balance, and maintain your overall physical and mental health. You’ll notice the positive difference if you do.
You can’t avoid stress, but you can learn how to manage it better. Make your well-being a priority and you’ll find that college is a much more rewarding and enjoyable experience. Learn more about Stress Awareness Month.