College is a stressful time for everyone. No matter what school you attend or major you declare, everyone experiences an overwhelming sense of pressure from time to time. Freshmen experience more stress than, say, seniors, due to the unfamiliarity of how to cope with such pressures. As the new kid on the block, you are learning the ropes of a new environment while trying to juggle schoolwork and a social life. To help make sure you are making the most of these exciting years, below are five tips to help manage stress as a college student.
Cut back on Coffee
Sure, its velvety aroma and promise of an energy jolt is tantalizing, but is it really worth risking your health? Recent studies have proven that caffeine increases stress hormones called catecholamines. One cup of coffee elicits cortisol and increases insulin levels, making you feel wound up and uneasy. Instead of reaching for that cup of joe, substitute it for getting a good night’s sleep and eating foods that contain natural energy, like fruits and vegetables.
Talk to Someone
Sometimes all you need is someone to lend you an ear in order for you to get the emotional support you need. During those periods when you feel like the world is crushing down on top of you, it is incredibly beneficial to allow your self to release your frustrations to a loved one, a professional counselor, or a psychologist. You’d be amazed at how valuable an honest conversation can be for stress management.
Take Advantage of School’s Clubs and Fitness Classes
To help you take your mind off your hardest class, think about joining a school club or a recreational sports league. Whatever club or team you join, make sure it is only for a couple hours a week and non-mandatory. The purpose is to make new friends at college, release a few endorphins and take your mind off of what is causing stress– not add more. Also, see if your school holds yoga classes in your health and wellness center. In addition to its physical benefits, yoga is an excellent way to achieve peace in the mind, helping you manage stress and anxiety.
Often times, the root of stress comes from a feeling of chaos and disorganization in one’s life. Once one starts feeling like control over their life is slipping from their grip, stress and anxiety soon follow. To avoid this, it is in a college student’s best interest to make sure they are always organized every step of the way. Tools such as day planners and dry erase boards are incredibly useful for writing down schedules and noting upcoming project due dates, exams, group meetings, etc. By keeping a clear idea of what is expected to be completed each day, week, and month, you will help ward off stressful feelings that stem from being unorganized.
The next time you feel frazzled, try the following breathing exercise: With eyes closed, inhale through your nose slowly until you cannot bring in any more air and hold that breath for 10 seconds. Then, push all of the air out of your mouth in one controlled exhale. Repeat this series again if needed. This breathing exercise is a great way to alleviate stress and help manage the short, shallow breaths that come along with it.
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