Life is stressful, especially for college students. As of March 2021, 87% of US students reported having experienced stress during their college years. It’s disturbing but not surprising: there have always been many reasons for college to be strenuous.
Students commonly feel stressed because of a dramatic shift in their lifestyle once they enter a new phase of their life. There, they face new responsibilities and increased workload, which eventually leads to certain stress. Generally, it’s not a problem. The problems pop up when the pressure becomes constant and overwhelming.
Luckily, there are proven ways to not let college stress get to you. Learn more about some of them from the following paragraphs.
Firstly, it’s crucial to understand why you’re feeling worried. Of all the possible reasons, what is it that bothers you most? Take the time to stop and really think about it. Once you do, the results may surprise you.
For instance, you may think that you’re worried about not fitting in. You try to socialize and be nice to everyone, but it isn’t working. Naturally, you feel like an outcast, not being able to form new relationships. Deep inside, you may just be feeling homesick and insecure.
Or you may feel like you’re not smart enough because homework takes hours, and you still can’t do it properly. The real reason may be anything from procrastination issues to the wrong choice of a major.
Certainly, it’s not always easy to sort things out on your own. If you feel that you can’t find the reasons for your condition, you might need outside help.
Improve Time-Management or Get Help
Oftentimes, you needn’t go far to find out the reasons for your stress. It can be as simple as having too much to do. Here again, it’s vital to distinguish if you’re truly overloaded or you just lack time-management skills.
The latter situation is very common, especially among first-year students who haven’t adapted to college life yet. Fortunately, this problem is also rather easy to tackle as there’s an abundance of effective time-management strategies for students. Planners and apps like myHomework, Focus To-Do, and the like can also be useful.
However, it may be that you do have too much to do. In this case, the only solution is to outsource some of your tasks. For example, you can use an essay service to get help from an essay writer when necessary or find a babysitter to play with your kid while you do your homework, or order ready-made meals to save time.
Your main task should be to decide what you need assistance with most of all.
Be In Control
If time management and outsourcing don’t help, the problem may lie deeper – that is, in your own brain.
Basically, stress is your body’s response to danger, real or perceived. If the danger is real, stress is productive and can save your life. But if we’re constantly exposed to heightened levels of stress due to perceived danger, our health is at risk.
In a situation when a “fight-or-flight” strategy cannot work like it’s supposed to, we become anxious, aggressive, or depressive instead. It happens because our primal brain holds control of our reactions for too long a time, and it destabilizes the whole system.
Luckily, we have our “modern brain,” or prefrontal cortex, that is responsible for reasonable behavior. To “turn off” stress and to switch on rational problem-solving, you should take control away from your primal brain and hand it to your prefrontal cortex, experts say.
There are several techniques to help you do that. Some of the most common are:
- breathing exercises;
- progressive muscle relaxation.
In all of them, the idea is to forcefully focus on something other than your condition and, therefore, break the vicious circle. Then, you can start to actually solve your problems.
Take Care of Your Body
Our body is a complex system where everything is interconnected. That means our minds cannot function effectively when our bodies don’t, and we can’t be stress-free when we don’t take proper care of our physical selves.
Students often fall victim to the delusion that they can live on snacks and coffee, pull all-nighters regularly, and yet stay well and productive. In reality, this lifestyle leads them to anxiety and extreme stress exposure.
Oppositely, what you need to do to ensure productivity and well-being is to:
- maintain a healthy diet;
- sleep well;
- exercise regularly;
- do health checkups.
If you manage to do all that, your body will eventually thank you by giving you more energy so that you could use it to fight back stress.
Be Gentle With Yourself
In a world where we’re constantly encouraged to achieve, it’s usually hard to relax and let yourself be less than perfect. Still, this is exactly what you need to do to make life calmer.
Of course, being a successful student is important. However, there’s a fine line between striving to deliver the best results when you have the resources to do so and when you haven’t.
To stay productive, we need to be unproductive sometimes. Therefore, remember to take time off to relax. Go for a walk, meet your friends, engage in a hobby – do anything that helps you replenish your energy. When energy is low, you’re especially prone to stress, so don’t let it fall below the critical level.
Also, don’t be a perfectionist because it is always a burden. If you can’t stop being that way and you feel like it’s a big problem, you may need to seek help from a therapist.
College is stressful for most students, but it’s important to keep the level of pressure at an acceptable level. In this article, we’ve shown you the five ways to keep college stress away from your life. Follow them consistently, and you’ll have a chance to remember college years as the best time in your life, not the most nerve-wrenching!