In 2013, the American Psychology Association published the concerning results of a survey. Seventy percent of directors believed that the number of students with psychological problems on campus had increased in the past year. Anxiety was a major concern among college students. Should we be surprised? College students are put under so much stress that it’s only natural for them to feel the consequences.
Stress is part of us. We even need it sometimes. If someone attacks you, stress is what makes you react. But, it’s not natural for us to feel stressed 24/7. It’s extremely important for every student to understand how to deal with stress.
Now, let’s get one thing out of the way: there’s no way to eliminate stress from your life. The only thing we can do is reduce it to minimal levels, so we can continue living our lives without being under constant pressure. When the whirlpool of stress takes you in, it’s a force you can hardly fight. That’s the effect we want to avoid.
Since college education is testing your limits every single day, it’s important to develop immunity against stress. If you try hard enough, you’ll get to the point when you recognize the moment that stresses you out, but you’re strong enough to resist the whirlpool. This might be the most important lesson you learn in life.
We’ll give you 10 practical tips that help you to find your way on how to deal with stress at college.
Some people say planning stressed them out. I have one thing to ask: have they ever tried planning? Robert Epstein, psychologist and self-help author, conducted a survey that showed planning was an effective technique for preventing stress. “Fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen,” – that’s how Epstein sees the benefits of planning.
Start from mapping your steps on “How to deal with stress“ path.
When you take few minutes of your day to plan how you’ll spend it, you’ll feel ready for the challenges. Let’s see: what responsibilities do you have in a day?
- Lectures till 2 p.m.
- Lunch and 30 minutes of rest
- Write homework till 6 p.m.
- 30 minutes of rest
- Study till 9 p.m.
- Spend some time with friends
- Go to bed before midnight.
If you have such a plan, you know it fits your capacity. If you don’t you’ll be stressed out from the very morning. “Oh my God! I have so many lectures. I’ll be too tired when I’m done with them. When will I write homework? There’s no way I’ll find time for studying. What about the GoT night we were planning?” You see how lack of planning makes your head a complete mess? When you have a plan, you understand how to deal with the stress and that there’s enough time for everything.
Plus, you’ll never forget about a deadline or a test date.
Okay, sometimes you won’t be able to fit everything in that schedule. You want to explore campus, join two clubs, meet new friends, become part of Greek life, and publish something in the campus newspaper? We’ll have to admit that’s a bit too much.
When you notice you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits, it’s time to step back. What are your priorities? Studying, attending lectures, writing the mandatory projects, and a moderate social life. If you attempt to achieve anything beyond what your capacity allows, you’ll have to sacrifice some of your priorities.. That means you’ll be feeling guilty, and that can mean only one thing: stress.
Always Find Space for Social Time
When you realize you have to sacrifice some of the things you like for the sake of studying, your social life is the first aspect to suffer the consequences. Sometimes that’s necessary. You’ll skip a party because you have to work on that English paper. Working on term papers and studying for a whole month without seeing anyone, however, is a problem.
You need an outlet. Otherwise, you’ll accumulate more stress than you’re able to cope with. Go dancing, meet new people, have walks… just be around people you like. They help you heal.
Just make sure to avoid alcohol and illegal substances. That’s not the right way on how to deal with stress. Plus, it’s not effective at all.
Get Help When You Don’t know How to Deal With Stress
Most college students are going through similar levels of stress. There are those who break under the pressure, there are those who sacrifice their social life to succeed in education, there are those who focus on social life and stop caring about education, and then there are those who know how to outsource and manage to do everything.
If you’re struggling with an important research paper, maybe a friend can help and you’ll return the favor? Okay, it’s not easy to find a friend willing to write you a paper. Maybe you can ask the professor to clarify the assignment? Maybe you can hire a writer to help? Help is available; you should only know where to find it.
Jonathan Brown, a writer from BestEssays, explains: “We have dozens of students coming to us for academic writing help daily. It’s not about being lazy. It’s not always about lacking writing skills. It’s mostly about not having time. These students realized they can achieve much better results when they outsource part of their work, and they are doing that pretty successfully.”
Instead of being stressed about your schedule being too full, think: can you get help with some of the tasks?
Get a Massage
Yes, it’s a serious and practical tip. When you have a busy week, get a massage over the weekend. Being tense reflects on your muscles. Do you notice how your posture is bended forward and your muscles feel stiff when you’re constantly worrying about something? That’s how stress affects your body. When you address those effects, you might reduce the psychological tension, too.
Learn How to Breathe
Breathing is such a natural process for us that we don’t even pay attention to it. When you start paying attention, however, you’ll notice how your breathing changes when you’re feeling stressed. When you’re relaxed, when you know how to deal with stress, you tend to breathe slowly and deeply. When stressed, however, your breath becomes short and shallow. At some moments, you might even catch yourself not breathing.
Try some breathing exercises and you’ll instantly notice a difference. When you’re able to control your breath, you’re practically changing your body’s reaction to stress.
Focus on Yourself
At college, you’re either taking lectures, studying, or hanging out with friends. That’s okay, but you’re constantly surrounded by other people. When will you have some me time? It’s not about being selfish. It’s about respecting yourself.
Reserve at least 20 minutes of your day to focus on yourself. Get deep into your thoughts and feelings. Recognize the moments that caused stress and anxiety. When you figure out what the reasons, you’ll be more aware of your reactions.
Yes, there’s enough time for that. If you’re unable to do it over the week, you can find time during the weekend.
Why do you need physical activity in your life? It pumps up your endorphins. Those are the neurotransmitters that make you feel good.
Pick a type of exercise you feel good about and stay committed to it. You need to turn it into a habit.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you. It’s not okay to keep everything inside. Do you have a friend you trust? Share your worries and you’ll find support. Your family is there for you, too.
If you feel like your problems are too big and you don’t want to make the people around feel bad, talk to a counselor. They might recommend a psychotherapist, who will help you get through the times of difficulty and become strong enough to move forward.
Let’s list few consequences of insufficient sleep:
- Reduced cognitive performance
- Impaired attention and working memory
- Increased risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure
You’re getting less healthy, less efficient in studying, and more and more stressed when you don’t sleep enough. Adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep for their brain and body to regenerate. Make sure to get that sleep even when you have too much on your schedule.
You can do this
There’s no point in making peace with stress through college. If you don’t fight it, it can bring you to a moment when you don’t even recognize yourself. Stress is part of our lives, but it’s also something we can manage. Hopefully, you’ll get stronger when you start following the tips above. Here are the action steps:
- Make plans and priorities, but find time for friends
- Outsource when you need to
- Get some me time, which includes exercise and massage
- Learn how to control the breath
- Talk to someone you trust
- Get enough sleep
Seems like a lot of work, but it’s easier than you think.