Stress is often part and parcel of being a student. The most common stress-inducing factors in a student’s life include financial burdens, parental expectations, and tight schedules. Some might say that stress is a powerful driver of motivation and even healthy to some extent. Yet, when it passes a certain threshold, stress can disrupt the normal functioning of students.
Moreover, if students let stress accumulate over time and do not address it adequately, it can lead to severe consequences. These include including anxiety and depression. For that purpose, it’s essential to manage stress in its early stages to capitalize on your academic opportunities and optimize your student experience.
Most students’ can attribute their stress levels to one of the following triggers:
Social. This stress relates to the consequences of undue peer pressure. Entering a new school comes with stress-inducing challenges such as balancing social and academic responsibilities, navigating new relationships, and adjusting to unfamiliar environments.
Academic. Factors like approaching deadlines, declining grades, ineffective time management, and other academic responsibilities can also cause significant stress.
General Life. This kind of stress is separate from both social and academic pressure and revolves around daily life nuisances. For example, commuting, financial constraints, and managing a job while studying.
And when students confront their daily stressors head-on, they can become more efficient and productive in their academic lives. Though an online masters in counseling can provide better insights into practical stress management, below are some tips for managing stress:
Watch your eating habits
Undereating or binging on junk food are common behaviors associated with high levels of stress. But did you know the science behind this link between unhealthy eating habits and stress? Apparently, according to research, stress usually results in a reduced appetite by producing a corticotropin-releasing hormone. Similarly, it may lead to an increased appetite due to excessive cortisol production. Regardless, a tense brain will most likely send mixed signals when proper nutrition is concerned. Therefore it is crucial to actively watch and manage your diet and ensure it is healthy.
Manage your time effectively
No matter what stage of life you’re in, good time management can prove to be the most effective stress reliever. Students must ensure a way to spend their time wisely, whether for studying, working, or leisure. Try to create a timed schedule and then follow it religiously. More importantly, structure your timetable to include breaks at regular intervals, such as for snacking or simply breathing.
Indeed, creating and following a workout routine isn’t easy, especially when one’s already stressed out because of college/university. However, don’t forget that regular exercise is a stress reliever in itself. Besides boosting overall health, being active also lowers stress levels. Regular exercise produces endorphins, a.k.a the feel-good neurotransmitters. Meaning, it can increase the number of endorphins in your brain, resulting in a euphoric state one enters after a satisfying workout.
Don’t rely too heavily on stimulants
While chugging energy drinks and coffee will probably help you during your after-hours study sessions, they will also cause inevitable caffeine crashes later. Caffeine and other stimulants increase the body’s cortisol levels and amplify the effects of stress on one’s body.
Be realistic in your approach
To avoid piling any more stress, stick with an easy-to-follow schedule. If you try to cram more than you’re capable of, you’ll invite a great deal of undue stress. Therefore, start by setting realistic goals and expectations and then manage them accordingly as you progress. By doing so, you can limit stress and avoid overworking yourself.
Connect and socialize
This tip is a no-brainer. It’s a common coping mechanism to shut down and go inside one’s solitary shell during stressful times. However, connecting with friends and family is a better alternative. Several researchers have linked loneliness and isolation with poor cardiovascular and mental health. So, the best way to tackle that wave of sadness is calling a loved one, meeting up with friends, or simply taking a stroll around the square.
Get enough sleep
One can’t possibly manage stress and improve mental health without a proper sleep routine. A good routine entails waking up and going to bed at the same every day consistently. It’s also essential to get in at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Stress tends to mess up one’s sleeping patterns. It might help to engage in relaxing activities before sleeping – for example, bathing and reading. Limit screen time before bed and turn off any laptops and phones at least an hour before sleeping.
Ask for help
Though the other tips might be helpful, the best way to control stress is to seek professional help. Students can easily find counselors and coaches in their respective schools/colleges specifically trained to manage academic pressures. A conventional therapist can also help accomplish the same goal. With an expert’s advice, you can learn effective techniques and acquire the necessary tools to combat stress effectively.
Channel your stress through hobbies
Finally, it’s a good idea to have an outlet to distress yourself. One way to do so is to channel your emotions through hobbies, including painting. Plus, students should maintain and develop their current hobbies and interests while also exploring new ones. This way, online students, in particular, can switch their attention from their screens for a while.
Like most sectors of the economy, education has experienced a severe shift because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to higher stress levels for students. The only way through is to accept and adapt to the change. This article mentioned a few tips for students to navigate stressful times like these. These include exercising, time management, limiting caffeine intake, and socializing. Whether or not you feel like it, there’s help out there for each one of us, and whatever you’re experiencing will soon be over.