College is an exciting time. You’re making new friends, you’re learning new things, and it’s a great time to be young! But with the excitement also comes stress. For many students, college is their first experience living away from home; they are responsible for paying bills, balancing schoolwork and social life, cooking meals (or eating out constantly), managing relationships with family members who live nearby or far away.
If this sounds like your story then don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to manage stress in college just by being proactive about what stresses you the most.
How to deal with college stress?
In the U.S., it is estimated that one out of every four college students has a diagnosable mental health disorder, usually anxiety or depression. While this statistic may be shocking to read about, the fact of the matter is college mental health issues are on a rise and something must be done.
As students we hear about stress all the time: how stressed out other students are, how much work they have due by tomorrow, etc. Now researchers at UCLA completed research that concludes stress levels among UC undergraduates jumped 42 percent since 2007 (LA Times). This article will give you tips on how to deal with stress.
1.) Accept that you’re stressed.
While it’s easy to say “my life isn’t that bad,” if you find yourself constantly worrying about school work, social lives, and family matters then, yes, your life is quite stressful. College?
Academics come first on college campuses and while we all want to have fun sometimes we know deep down we need to get our priorities straight and do what we came here for: learn. Take some time out of the day to decompress and try not think about things too much. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed or stressed I go outside and look at nature or read a book; anything to get my mind off of work.
2.) Create a schedule/planner.
One of the best things I did for myself this summer was to create a daily schedule. This way I knew what I needed to do every day, at what time, and how much time I had to spare after each assignment or task.
Use different colors to mark out the main tasks you have due in the next few weeks so it’s easier to see your progress as deadlines approach.
3.) Stay social.
My biggest stressor freshman year was realizing how many other people were also taking my desired classes; meaning lots of competition for grades and not enough room for friends (I wanted them all!).
Staying social is an excellent means of dealing with stress because if you surround yourself with like minded individuals then who cares about test scores? As long as you’re making friends and building relationships with those around you, everything should fall into place.
4.) Exercise regularly.
In a study out of Stanford University it was found that exercising releases endorphins which “produce a sense of euphoria and help elevate your mood” (Stanford Health). What better way to take care of yourself than by getting outside and going for a walk or run?
This is another excellent means of dealing with stress because not only are you helping yourself physically but mentally as well. Get that heart rate up and breathe in some fresh air!
5.) Eat healthy/ sleep at least six hours a night.
This one seems obvious but it’s so easy to let things slip when juggling homework, studying, and so on. As hard as it is to say, putting off homework until the last minute isn’t typically worth it because you’ll be up all night trying to finish an assignment at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night only to find yourself tired and unfocused the next day in class. Try studying for shorter periods of time then taking breaks or naps in between study sessions; your grades will thank me later.
6.) Limit alcohol intake.
My first year of college I was naive enough not to think drinking had any negative effects besides hangovers but now that I’m older (and hopefully more mature) I realize there’s more at stake than just waking up with a splitting headache after too many vodka shots.
Drinking can relieve stress and reduce anxiety in the short term but it is definitely not a good coping mechanism. It also makes you forget about what’s really important in life and can lead to poor decision making. Save your 8 p.m. date with Jose Cuervo for Saturday night and stay in control of yourself!
7.) Don’t procrastinate.
Similar to point number five, sometimes it’s just so much easier to put an assignment off until the last minute when that’s all you have time for. Avoid this habit at all costs because when that one paper is due tomorrow morning and you wait until midnight to start writing, guess what?
You’re going to be up way past your bedtime and most likely stressing out even more than before! Get your priorities straight and remember, these are the most important four years of your life; make the best of it!
8.) Make time for yourself.
Finally, one of my favorite ways to deal with stress is to take some time out of each day just for me. Whether it’s taking a walk around campus by myself or just reading in my room, giving myself some alone time is radical for reducing anxiety and stopping me from feeling overwhelmed.
It’s so easy to get caught up in school work but you need down time too! You can’t always be studying or worrying about getting good grades so don’t forget to take care of yourself outside the classroom.
I am not sure if you are reading this because of stress or just for general interest, but there is hope. You can do something about it. There are so many ways to manage your life and get through college without the added pressure that comes with being overwhelmed.