According to a study done by the American College Health Association, 48% of students reported having moderate or severe psychological stress. There are many coping strategies college students can develop to reduce their stress. Below are five stress reducing techniques to help achieve this.
1. Get Sufficient Sleep
Before you pull that all-nighter to study for a test or finish a last-minute assignment, think about all the different ways not getting enough sleep can affect you. Not enough rest can lower your cognitive function, academic performance and mental health. It is recommended college students get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. According to the American Psychological Association, “Sleep is a necessary human function — it allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood.” Try techniques like developing an evening routine, avoiding large intakes of caffeine and avoiding electronics before bed.
Being active is not only good for your physical health, but it can also be used as a stress reducer. Studies show exercising improves cognitive functions, alertness and concentration and reduces fatigue. “Recently I have started kickboxing,” Freshman Kylee Goodman said “I look forward to going to my lessons because afterwards I feel really happy and content.” After exercising, your brain produces neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins are a feel-good chemical that work as natural painkillers. Other activities such as meditation, massage therapy and breathing deeply can produce endorphins. If you do not feel the motivation to exercise, try to recruit a friend who is willing to work out with you.
3. Eat Healthy Foods
Believe it or not the type of food you eat can affect your stress levels. Fast food, fried foods, processed foods, and foods high in fat and sugar can increase your stress levels. Over time a bad diet can lead to decreased cognitive function, weight gain, and mental and physical stress. To avoid this, try eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins. According to http://www.Abott.com “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” said Dr. Matthew J. Kuchan, a senior research scientist at the medical device company Abbott Laboratories. “A healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation and by helping to reduce weight gain.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have your occasional cheeseburger or candy bar, but you should limit yourself on foods that are not super healthy.
4. Learn How to Manage your Time
One of the most important things a college student should learn to do is how to manage their time correctly. Poor time management can cause significant stress for college students. Your time management in college can determine success or failure. Author and psychologist William Knause estimated that 90% of college students procrastinate, 25% of these students end up dropping out. To stay organized, write down any upcoming assignments on a planner or on your phone. You should also try and stick to a schedule. “I usually use the calendar on Canvas to see all the assignments I have due,” Goodman said. “It’s the whole reason I stay organized.”
5. Give Yourself Time to do things You Enjoy
While it may be hard to find time in your busy schedule, try to fit in some time where you can take a break to do things you enjoy. “I absolutely think it’s important to do the things you enjoy,” TJC Learning Framework professor Lorie Knight said. “If you are not getting to do any of the things you enjoy then your stress levels are going to increase. The key is to find balance and to know when it’s OK to do the things you’re enjoying and when your schoolwork needs to take priority.” Whether it be hanging out with friends or partaking in your favorite hobby, try to give yourself a break to recharge your batteries and ease your stress. You don’t want to have a burnout and lose all motivation just because you did not include activities you enjoy in your schedule.