A College Student’s Guide to Managing Stress

Stressed College student holding up his head over a table stressed over some documents and a laptop

In our last article (read here), we listed a variety of reasons why students may experience stress. Sometimes stress can make us feel out of control. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t learn to manage it and continue our journey. Let us understand how stress works and how it affects us so that we can learn how to manage it.

What happens when we experience stress?

However, consistently high levels of cortisol cause damage to our bodies. It can cause various diseases such as ulcers, high blood pressure, anxiety, high levels of cholesterol, and so on.

The role of the stress hormone cortisol in the body diagram illustration
The role of the stress hormone cortisol in the body diagram illustration
How excessive cortisol impacts the body

The trick is to learn how to manage the stress (and cortisol) within our bodies generated from our everyday busy lives. To help you do that, we have put together a few tips to help you manage stress and maintain your mental health.

Note: It is important to recognize that it is not easy to achieve all (or any) of the below steps, especially when someone is under severe stress or dealing with mental health problems. Everyone is different and needs different kinds of support, so do not let this overwhelm or burden you further if you are already stressed.

Get enough sleep

The key is to understand our bodies and recognize how much sleep our bodies need so that we wake up mentally recharged and not sleepy or physically drained.

We can improve our mental health and decrease stress in college significantly if we allow our bodies the necessary amount of sleep.

While it is becoming more and more common for young people to follow very irregular sleeping patterns, everyone must decide this for themselves. Don’t give in to the peer pressure. Be the odd one out and say ‘good night’ if that is what your body wants you to do.

Learn to be assertive

The secret to managing a large workload is knowing how to avoid overloading yourself.

A related skill here is prioritization. Look at each item on your to-do list and think of how urgent it is and how important it is and then plan accordingly.

The same goes with committing to too many social and personal engagements. The inability to choose and desire to please everyone often comes at a great cost of physical and mental wellbeing.

Take a break

Take some time off for yourself and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Call it ‘me time’ or ‘self-care’. Enjoy nature, sip a glass of fruit juice, try to distract and relax.

Notepad with a To Do List that says do nothing helps to reduce stress
Notepad with a To Do List that says do nothing helps to reduce stress
Research proves that doing nothing, and even getting bored, reduces stress and is very helpful for creativity

Build meaningful relationships

Talking to a friend can help us come up with creative solutions to overcome our problems.

But more importantly, it is having a support system and the moral support we get from friends and well-wishers that makes us feel strong. It is equally important for us to be there for these same people when they need us. This is what gives true meaning to our lives.

Eat well

But when we eat healthy, we give our body adequate energy and nutrients it needs to fight stress.

Strangely enough, a lack of sleep tends to increase cravings for junk and fatty foods. So this cycle repeats itself and is a recurring disaster. A proper diet when coupled with a reasonable amount of sleep improves our mental wellbeing and makes it easier to deal with stress.

Exercise

Research has shown that physical activity can reduce stress and elevate your mental wellbeing almost immediately.

Exercise produces endorphin, a feel-good hormone, that improves mood and helps to relieve stress.

The best part is that you don’t have to join an expensive gym to exercise. Simple freehand stretching, walking, jogging, or yoga can do the job wherever you are at the moment.

Stay away from alcohol or substance abuse

Avoid artificial energy boosters

Skip the caffeine and opt for a healthier option such as fruit (no, not fruit juice!)

Instead, plan your time well and prioritize your body’s needs without opting for such short cuts.

Get organized

Find a stress buster

Reading or hanging out with friends also can help to release stress. It’s important to remember that every individual is different. We need to figure out our own stress busters. You never know, it could be something as simple as doing a routine chore like washing dishes, but with some music on! (Did you know, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos wash the dishes at home to relax?)

Meditate

fitness, meditation and healthy lifestyle concept - indian man in earphones listening to music on smartphone and meditating in lotus pose at home helps reduce stress
fitness, meditation and healthy lifestyle concept - indian man in earphones listening to music on smartphone and meditating in lotus pose at home helps reduce stress
Meditation counters stress and has numerous benefits for physical and mental health

Set SMART goals

It’s important to set your expectations right.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

By setting SMART goals, you will be more aware of your goals and not get stressed out in the process.

Ask for help

When all else fails if you feel the stress levels rising beyond control, looking for professional help is a very healthy thing to do.

Going to college is exciting, but it can put a lot of pressure on you. By using some of these strategies, you can reduce college stress and make your time there really memorable.

Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational and educational purposes only. Lokyatha has observed best effort due diligence and all health related content is reviewed by a trained professional before publishing. However, this should not and can not replace personalized medical help. Please refer to a professional in all cases of need.

Lokyatha is an education focused initiative to enable young adults to live better, more fruitful lives by delivering real world life skills.

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