Between exams, term papers, rent and keeping the dog breathing that your parents told you not to get, it’s mind-blowing that any college student is still alive and kicking.
Stress is perhaps one of the topsy-turviest emotional rollercoasters out there, and, while it’s easy for people to claim the ultimate mastery of stress control, it’s pretty much undeniable that such a strong emotional experience can push even the sanest of individuals into crazy town.
Almost 80 percent of college students and young adults admit that they frequently experience some form of stress or anxiety on the daily. Yet, many individuals refuse to treat it as a legitimate concern. When left untreated, extreme amounts of stress can cause severe emotional and physical changes, and, ultimately, result in health conditions such as muscle pain, a weakened immune system, depression and obesity (yikes).
It’s important to recognize individual tolerance levels for stress. For some, small amounts of stress help motivate and encourage, while others aren’t so lucky. But, regardless of what you can or cannot handle, every student has attempted to trapeze the tight wire of finishing a late-night paper while suffering from the worst case of writer’s block known to man.
Instead of doing the logical thing and taking a break, you struggle through the pain and produce a piece of crap. Couple this with the increasingly large amount of stress permanently boiling under the surface, and you’ve got an explosion of anxiety waiting to erupt.
Enough is enough.
Mom and dad aren’t here to help, so it’s time for you to start getting your shit together. Here are ten ways to reduce your stress in manageable, sustainable ways.
1. Change Your Routine
I used to wake up and immediately dive into a 30-minute routine of checking emails and rummaging through my bag. It was a vortex of never-ending, soul-sucking boredom that I participated in every single day.
Now, I simplify my morning by starting off with a nice, hot cup of coffee and the news. It makes a world of difference.
2. Clean and Purge
When surrounded by mounds and mounds of clutter, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. Take a few minutes every morning and tidy up your living space. Get rid of old papers, throw out your trash and make your bed.
You’d be surprised how nice it is to come home to a clean room instead of a rumpled mess of sheets and clothing.
3. Get. Out. Of. The. House
It is incredibly easy to get sucked into the black hole of staying indoors every weekend, but doing so can have some pretty serious consequences.
Instead, take your homework to the local coffee shop and drink a delicious latté for a few hours, or take a stroll down to a park and sit outside. Studies show that being around other people and getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D not only help fight stress and depression, but also improve sleep. And who doesn’t want that?
4. Squad Up
Seeking support from your friends is the easiest way to eliminate feelings of anxiety and uncontrollable stress. If you’ve been working overtime on everything from projects to late-night cram sessions, make sure you also take time to recuperate.
Rally up your squad and organize a day out on the town. Whether that means taking a yoga class, getting ice cream or playing a game of paintball, do something that will allow you to take your mind off all your to-do lists.
5. Focus, Not Freak
With stress coming from literally anything under the sun, it’s easy to lose track of what’s most important. Instead of constantly focusing on short-term goals, like actually doing your homework, try establishing long-term goals that matter to you and write them down.
It may sound like a waste of time, but understanding what your core values are, and thus how you want to respond to various stressors, helps to keep positivity and morale up when you need it.
6. Zen It Out
When I was younger, I was crazy excited about the idea of meditation, and made it my life’s mission to learn all about it. And to this day, I still consider it one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Whether you’re a Type A or Type B person, meditation is something everyone can get on board with. For five minutes a day, you can relax every bone in your body and start your week with a completely blank slate.
7. You Time
Leaving work only to immediately plug into social media is one of the worst things you can do for your stress levels. Instead, take some time every night to completely unplug and turn off all electronic devices.
Set some mood lighting, cook a delicious meal and read a book. Not only will this improve sleep, but your brain will thank you the next day.
8. Breathe In. Breathe Out.
Controlled breathing is a simple and easy way to calm both your mind and body. And the best part? It takes absolutely no time out of your busy schedule.
Breathing exercises designed to establish a sense of calmness and tranquility typically stimulate the vagus nerve, sending a signal to your brain to turn down your sympathetic nervous system. By turning this down, the parasympathetic system becomes dominant. Essentially, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops and the body is put in a state of healing and tranquility.
9. Direct Your Attention
Every morning, take a few minutes to sit in bed and establish an understanding of how your body is feeling. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and pay attention to each part of your body, all the way from your head to your toes.
Do you feel achy? Is anything painful? Taking the time to discover these little tidbits of information does wonders. When you know that something is wrong, you can take the time to fix it.
10. Distractions Are Good
Odds are when you feel stressed, you also feel like there is absolutely no time for a break. But you’re wrong. When your thoughts are stuck in a loop of constant stress, it’s easy to lose track of the end goal.
So, take some time to shift your focus elsewhere. Even fifteen minutes of coloring is better for your brain than fifteen minutes of staring at your homework wishing the answers would magically appear.
A lot of these tips may seem like common knowledge, but when you’re struggling to get yourself together in the morning they’re easy to forget. Everyone’s tolerance for stress is different, so start learning how you respond to various stressors and life will be a million times easier. No one should have to live with constant stress.