College is undeniably one of the most stressful times of a student’s academic career. Which as a result, can cause students to fall into the trap of turning to harmful coping mechanisms, such as drugs, alcohol, or reckless activities to alleviate their anxiety – but these are only short-term and unhealthy solutions that can cause chronic problems in the future. To avoid this pitfall, a student needs essential coping and management methods in order to accomplish their academic goals and stay healthy and happy throughout the busy semester. In fact, one of the main concerns for students at the moment is the fact they use the Ritalin or Adderall to completely shut down their stress response and fuel them through an essay or study session. But study drugs only make things worse, despite giving a student a temporary relief from stress. This is just one of the many examples college students should avoid at all costs.
These are five ways to help relieve the stress of college classes:
Learn how to manage time efficiently
One of the main culprits of stress during college is poor time management. Not following an organized schedule results in a student never finishing assignments on time nor having a moment to relax. This also is a catalyst for succumbing to procrastination since putting off tasks until the last minute is more appealing than confronting them in the present moment. In order to manage time efficiently, you will need to implement the use of and diligently follow a schedule that lists all of your tasks in the order of the most important tasks that must be finished first and what can be handled later. Blocking off certain parts of the day specifically for doing schoolwork forces you to tackle the workload head-on and not aimlessly get distracted.
Exercise in conjunction with eating a healthy diet
Did you know that sitting for long periods of time negatively impacts your body? After the long lectures in classes are over, hit the gym! Being active encourages your body to produce more endorphins and dopamine – the “feel good” chemicals that lower your cortisol and adrenaline levels in exchange for heightened energy and feelings of positivity. Exercise is also a fantastic coping mechanism for stress. During the activity, you take a step back from the world to solely focus on yourself, the state of your body, and improving the overall function of your mind. In conjunction with exercise, your diet should also consist mainly of healthy food. You can’t feel or function at your best without eating healthy. But don’t deprive yourself of treats all-together. Indulge every once in a while on the weekend after all work is said and done!
Communicate your concerns
Have a conversation with a trusted individual over the things that are concerning you this college semester. Each person can share similar experiences and validate your emotions; plus, articulating your emotions always lifts a weight off your shoulders. This support system can include your close friends, family, professors, and even therapists. Don’t deter from the idea of professional help and advice. Therapists are medically trained to equip you with the right emotional tools to healthily and appropriately deal with stress and anxiety. There are also counselors on your campus that can assist you just as well. If the idea of talking to another person about concerns makes you uncomfortable, you can also turn to journaling to express and reflect on your emotions without feeling the need to filter anything or be perfectly coherent.
Keep up with a hobby
If you have a hobby that never fails to leave you feeling fulfilled or happy, don’t abandon it during college. Hobbies are essential to maintaining your well-being and they cultivate a sense of fulfillment. Your life shouldn’t be comprised solely of responsibilities and obligations – fun should be included in it, too. Ultimately, hobbies give you a sense of purpose outside your professional or academic responsibilities, help you decompress from the outside world, and exist solely for you to improve upon and make you happy. Don’t have a hobby? Find one that suits you! There are an infinite number of activities to partake in. Plus, hobbies can open you up to communities and new groups of friends who share similar interests.
Get some fresh air
Sometimes, the best solution to alleviate stress is simply going outside and soaking in some sunshine. Besides keeping us warm, the sun provides us with essential intake of vitamin D, a vitamin also found in food that encourages cell growth and bone strength, and improves neurological function and immunity responses. Furthermore, if your sleep quality has been poor, the sun resets your circadian rhythm since natural light exposure has the most influence over regulating sleep cycles. Overall, scientific research states that being in nature will always improve our psychological and physical well-being. This is mostly due to the fact that nature is a calming and healing environment that is completely separated from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life – there are no busy commutes, loud crowds of people or technology that overwhelm us.
While college is one of the most stressful parts of a student’s life, it is also the most rewarding. With the right coping mechanisms, healthy habits, and dedicated attitude – you will make the most out of college, feel ready to take on the world outside the classroom, and propel yourself forward in your future successful career.