26 Tips for Managing Stress

Stress can emerge in all kinds of forms, manifest in many different manners, and affect people in countless ways. Sometimes, people work better under stress; if they have to write a paper in two hours, for example, they may just sit down and crank out some writing better than if they had spent two days on it. However, stress never, ever has positive long-term effects. There are the possibilities of stress-related diseases and mental disorders, and even if one never develops anything severe, it’s simply not enjoyable to be stressed. Just as stress reveals itself differently among each individual, stress management is also something that works uniquely for everyone. The options for how to relax and find peace with your mind are endless, but here is a list I’ve compiled that will get you started!

 

1. IDENTIFY THE STRESSOR

Figuring out what exactly is causing you stress is the first step towards managing that stress and preventing it in the future. It may be schoolwork, personal life, upcoming or past events, or it may feel like everything is causing you stress.  If you find yourself stressing about “everything” in your life, try to narrow it down to the top three stressors and focus on those instead of trying to focus on it all.

 

2. IDENTIFY UNHEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS

Make a mental note of any ways you deal or have dealt with stress that you regret or know aren’t the best ways to cope. If they are bad habits, learn how to get rid of those habits, or replace them with better ones.

 

3. WAKE UP EARLIER

I read somewhere that learning how to be a morning person is one of the best life choices you can possibly make. Mornings can be tough, but if you get into the habit of getting out of bed soon after you wake up, stretching and maybe getting yourself some coffee, you will find that you can get so much done before noon!

 

4. PLAN THE NIGHT BEFORE

After getting into bed, I always pull out a piece of paper or sticky note and write out where I need to be the next day, the things I need to get done, and the things I want to do. I figure out what the best order for these things are and it not only helps me sleep easily, but waking up is also easier because I already know what I have planned for the day.

 

5. KEEP A PLANNER

This is a NECESSITY for college students!! With so many classes and such random schedules, I can’t imagine trying to remember or organize all my assignments and due dates on random pieces of paper or even all on my phone. I use my phone calendar mostly for club meetings and special dates/events. I have a small spiral planner for all homework assignments and assessments, and finally I have a third hardcover planner for personal planning. Of course, it’s possible to have too many planners, but personally, as long as each one has its own specific purpose, I find it very useful.

 

6. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Remember that you can’t control everything. There’s way too much that is out of your control and the only thing you can do about that is to let it go.

 

7. TRUST YOUR INTUITION

Your gut is one of the only things you can always trust no matter what. People always say this for peer pressure scenarios; if you feel like it’s wrong, don’t do it. But it’s true for everything, even basic everyday decisions. Using the classic example of going to a party or catching up on homework, think about how you’ll feel the next day, and throughout the next week. If you feel that you’ve been working hard and deserve a night of fun, go with that intuition.  But, if you are hesitant and thinking more that you should do homework because it will help your week be less stressful, then skip the party and go another night when you don’t have work to do and are able to enjoy it to the fullest.

 

8. READ A BOOK (for fun!!)

All through middle school and high school, I was forced to read so many books, and like most, I began to lose interest in reading. But then I picked up a book during a rare moment of free time and I had completely forgotten how relaxing it was to read for enjoyment. I felt like I was able to focus on the book better because it wasn’t assigned; no one was telling me that I had to read it, I chose it myself. Make time to choose a book to read, and take your time reading it. No deadlines, no exams, no critical thinking questions to think about as you read. Some people I know like to annotate books and write all over them as they read, but that’s completely optional.

 

9. FIX/ABANDON TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

Get rid of those bad vibes, remove them from your life one way or another.

 

10. EVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES

One thing that makes me the most stressed out is having numerous things to take care of, and feeling like I don’t have enough time for everything. Listing them out, either in your head or on paper, will help you think clearer if you only have a few things on the top of the list to focus on.

 

11. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

There’s only so much time in the day, and only so many days in a week. You are only capable of doing so much in that time so while it is important to set goals, know your limits and don’t push yourself too hard.

 

12. BE FLEXIBLE

Things won’t always go your way, and when they don’t, it’s important to be able to accept it and continue to go with the flow. Don’t let minor or major obstacles completely stop you from moving forward. My mom always tells me that “everything happens for a reason,” and whether that’s something good or bad, there’s always a way that it affects your journey, but don’t let it put a halt in that journey.

 

13. WATCH A FUNNY MOVIE OR TV SHOW

Laughter is so so sooooo important when it comes to managing stress.  There’s so much science behind it but in the simplest words, it makes you feel good.

 

14. SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT

Especially if they can easily make you smile or laugh, those are the best types of people.

 

15. EAT A HEALTHY MEAL/SNACK

Take some time to prepare a healthy meal or snack for yourself, or go out and buy some fruit or vegetables. It’s especially hard to maintain a healthy diet in college, so treat your body to those vitamins whenever you can.

 

16. TREAT YO’ SELF

While eating healthy is important for both physical and mental health, it’s also important to not restrict yourself from comfort food, a shopping spree, or spending a whole day in bed watching Netflix, just as long as none of these actions are self-destructive or end up getting you into trouble. Remember, everything in moderation - even moderation.

 

17. MAKE TIME TO EXERCISE

This can be tricky in college, but once it becomes a part of your routine and becomes a habit, you won’t even have to think about it anymore. Walking or biking to classes instead of driving, for example, or doing a simple work out or dancing in your room if you ever find yourself bored will make you feel so much better.

 

18. SWITCH OFF YOUR PHONE

You’ve undoubtedly heard this one many times before, and maybe you’ve actually tried it or maybe you’ve just shrugged it off and kept scrolling through Instagram, but switching your phone off, or even just muting it and putting it face-down somewhere away from your reach, can change a lot. Even though you may panic every time you think about your phone being far away, that’s only when you’re thinking about it. Distract yourself and spend at least an hour without checking the tiny screen and believe me it will be refreshing.

 

19. DOODLE, DRAW, OR COLOR

Whether you’re an artist or not, just grab a piece of scrap paper and any writing utensil and doodle whatever is on your mind, or what’s around you, or just mindlessly scribble. Coloring is also a great thing to do when you need to unwind because you can do it without thinking at all!

 

20. TAKE A SHOWER

Sometimes showers stress me out because I start remembering all these things I have to do that I forgot about, but when I focus on making it a relaxing time for me to get clean, it’s so refreshing.

 

21. DRINK WATER OR TEA

HYDRATION!! Water is very important. Water helps with so much, it’s actually amazing. Psychical and mental health, skin care, hair, energy, there’s so much. Tea is also so soothing, especially on cold days and nights.

 

22. MEDITATE

It’s as easy as closing your eyes, being aware of your surroundings, then trying to focus on your breathing, and being aware of your body.  It doesn’t even have to take longer than five minutes of your entire day, but it will go a long way.

 

23. GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Another thing that is just as important as water is getting your z’s. If you’re staying up late at night and are unable to sleep in the next morning, take naps to catch up. Don’t rely on just the coffee to get you through the day because one day turns into two which turns into a habit and unhealthy habits lead to more stress.

 

24. LISTEN TO MUSIC

This one is definitely different for everyone, but I’ve personally noticed that there are a few songs that help me relax almost immediately. For anyone who is looking for recommendations, I highly suggest Petrichor by Phish. Anything, though, that soothes your mind and allows you to breathe is perfect.

 

25. BREATHE

Can I emphasize this enough? One very close friend in high school used to always tell me, “Don’t forget to breathe,” because he knew that when I got stressed, I would forget to think about my breathing and it would become shallow or too fast, which made me even more stressed. I wrote that saying on my arm almost every day so that if I ever found myself in a panic, I could see it right away and remember to focus on my breathing.

 

26. SMILE

This one is SO cliché but hear me out. Personally, forcing a smile does not necessarily make my mood better if I’m in a funk or stressed. But taking some time to think about pleasant things, things that make me happy and things I’m living for, and letting myself smile about those things, can go a long way.  It doesn’t even have to take more than 10 seconds! Just remember to let go of tension and think happy thoughts and smile often. :)