This guest post on ways to manage stress is by College Focus writer, Sani Golriz.
We all need coping mechanisms to help us deal with stressful situations. Some of us were fortunate enough to be raised in families who taught us healthy ways to combat stress. Others of us didn’t have these luxuries.
When you’re in college, you can expect to deal with more stress than you have probably ever felt before. Why? Because college, at its very core, is meant to be hard and meant to weed out those who just can’t cut it. On top of that, you might have to balance a part-time job, spending time with friends and family, dealing with unexpected breakups, deaths in the family, disagreements or arguments with your roommates, etc. These things happen, it’s part of life. What’s important is how you deal with them.
Here are some coping mechanisms that we recommend:
Exercise gets our heart rate going and builds those natural endorphins that make us so happy. Playing a sport, or simply going to the gym to blow off some steam will have you feeling centered in no time. If you have access to your school’s recreational facility, ask about mind/body classes such as yoga to help you balance yourself. Yoga and other sports will naturally take you out of the stressful zone you’re in and into complete awareness of what your body (and nothing else) is doing.
2. Take Stock of Your Friends
Occasionally we’ll become friends with someone who we didn’t realize is actually a bad apple. Bad apple friends can bring us a lot of stress, so take inventory of who’s in your life to make sure they’re not the ones causing the grief. You have full control of who has the power of effecting you (negatively), so either talk to them about your feelings and ask them to modify their behavior, or get rid of them altogether.
3. Take Care of Yourself
It’s very true that pampering ourselves is the ultimate gift of renewal. Do something nice for yourself as often as is feasible. It’ll break up your routine and recharge you for the rest of what’s to come.
4. Eat Well
Often, stress is caused indirectly by the food we eat. A very brief example of “indirectly” is when you eat a lot of junk food, you will eventually gain weight (if you don’t turn around and burn all those calories right away), your skin will probably be affected, and you will probably start feeling stressed about your physical health.
On top of that, junk food makes us feel like crap and generally lethargic, so we’ll probably be slower in the uptake and feel stressed because we can’t get anything done. So, eat lots of “real” food and avoid the crap that will slowly poison your body and mental state of being.
5. Manage Your Time
Buy a planner, or use your digital one. My recommendation (because it has worked for me for years), is to list out everything you have to do daily, weekly, and monthly. Of course you may modify the calendar, but at least you have an idea of what needs to be done each day. Don’t rely on your brain to remember everything because it probably won’t; it has too many other things it has to remember…like how to get an A on your next exam.
When you manage your time efficiently, you’ll be able to sleep. Avoid the all-nighters; they generally aren’t helpful and you will feel awful the next day. Do you really want to go into an exam like that? Get as much sleep as you can, naps count.
7. Join a Club
Join a club or participate in another extracurricular activity. You’ll get to meet more people and make new friends. You’ll also give yourself the opportunity to step away from school and devote your time to the activity. This may not be the best use of your time if you’re considering it on a productivity level, but it’s a much needed respite for your brain so take it into consideration.
8. Talk with Someone
Share your feelings with your friends, family, significant other, mentor, and/or college counselor. Many campuses, especially the large ones, have psychologists on staff to help you work out problems. You don’t have to pay for this service; you already did in your tuition and fees. Take advantage of the psychologists while you can because once you graduate, you’ll have to start paying for their services!