Let me just say it straight, college is stressful, and college campus is not a friendly environment for stress management. You are always busy with schoolwork. There is constantly something in your personal life worries you. You don’t get enough sleep. You are usually on low energy level. You deal with the stressful transition into college during the first few semesters, and when you reach the third year you start to get anxious over your life after college. Everyone on campus seems to be coping with something going wrong in their lives all the time that stress becomes a chronic normality in college.
If college life is making you feel stressed out, anxious, or a bit depressed, don’t panic and know that you are not in this alone. In fact, I decide to write on this topic because I am right now in the middle of a really tough midterm week (hope everyone is doing ok). I think it is the right time to share some of my thoughts and feelings on stress as well as tips I recommend in managing stress in college.
Plan Things Out.
We all know that college life is deadline after deadline after deadline… If you are stressed out by the amount of things you need to do, get a planner and try list them out one by one. I personally get most anxious by thinking about things I have to deal with but haven’t started yet. Writing them down and getting my hands on them as soon as possible definitely help reduce the anxiety coming from uncertainty. And perhaps after physically listing them out and doing them, you may find out that these tasks are not as many or as hard as you thought.
The routinized lifestyle is another cause of stress in college. We stick to our schedules repetitively for months, and the lack of change can sometimes make life seem less fun. So don’t hesitate to take some time off from your tight schedule and plan something you enjoy doing to de-stress. It can be a short trip to somewhere off campus during the weekend, a night out when you are done with several deadlines, or a coffee run during study break after finishing the next paragraph of you essay. These random moments of joy are essential for managing a highly routine life in college. Thinking about these after-work treats may also give you more motivation and productivity than just drowning yourself in work and deadlines.
Get Away from the Stressful Environment.
College campus itself can sometimes be an extremely stressful environment, so if you feel trapped, it is a good idea to get away and recharge in a more relaxed environment. Certainly, you can achieve that by traveling out of town, and luckily, we do have breaks and long weekends throughout the semester to make it happen. But on an ordinary weekday occasion, getting away can also mean switching up working environments. If working at the spot where you usually work at is becoming increasingly stressful and difficult, find somewhere else. Places on campus such as Campus Grounds, the Quad, and outside seating around campus are all great stress-free options for working.
From don’t know when, the idea of “mindfulness” and meditation become very popular on social media. It seems like all the bloggers/influencers/YouTubers who are dealing with anxiety meditate and say that meditation has helped improve their conditions. I tried some of the top-rated meditation apps over the summer and here is what I learned. Meditation in general teaches you to relax and be mindful through breathing and focusing on sensations at the present moment. Many apps offer meditation practices targeting different goals, better sleep, calming anxiety, happiness, managing stress, and etc. Meditation is a skill that requires learning and practicing, but since the internet has made it rather available for anyone anytime, feel free to try a 5-10 minute-session before bed or during study breaks.
Yes, even just the action of laughing helps decrease stress. It is said that laughter is a good medicine. Laughter relaxes your muscle, and releases endorphins to reduce the effects of stress. So, if you are in the midst of negative emotions and need a quick boost of energy, get a YouTube video or some memes you think it’s funny and laugh out loud.
Get Some Sleep.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard a million times about how an average adult needs 8 hours of sleep and that sleep deprivation causes fatigue, has negative impact on brain functions, and exacerbate symptoms of depression. But we are college students. We have tons of work, we want to social, we procrastinate, we cram, we don’t get enough sleep, but we find adjusting sleeping hours is actually quite difficult once we get used to going to bed late. Power naps are good. Although not going to help you repay all the sleep debt at once, a short nap can significantly reduce fatigue and increase productivity. So, take a nap when you can, and wake up with higher energy and better mood.
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