Stress Management in College
March 11, 2019
A lot of stress in college stems from difficulties in balancing time spent on school work, sports, rehearsals, and other extracurricular activities. Prioritize the things you need to do, and focus on completing the most important ones first. Also, avoiding procrastination by working on assignments in small chunks, instead of marathon-length homework sessions, can be an effective way to approach schoolwork.
Set Realistic Expectations
It's important to have realistic expectations for yourself and what you can do. As human beings, no one is perfect and can do everything well. Overcommittment can lead to stress, so be honest with yourself and feel comfortable saying no to additional activities when you feel overwhelmed by all that needs to get done. Focus, instead, on doing your best and being proud of the incredible things you do!
Remember to take time for yourself! It's easy to get caught up in the rapidness of daily life, but setting aside time to engage in self-care activities, such as going for a walk, meditating, or listening to music, can help you feel refreshed and better prepared to do your work. Another important part of self-care is making sure to get a good night's sleep, eating a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water to keep the body functioning as well as possible.
A note about sleep: Make sleep a priority. Having a regular bed time and bed time routine is important. During sleep, memories are revised and stored, waste products are removed from the brain, muscles are repaired, hormones are regulated. Sleep is a basic need, and making it a priority will help you learn and be more productive.
All people handle stress differently, but utilizing positive coping skills (and avoiding negative ones) can help a person feel better about life in the midst of stressful times. Examples of positive coping skills include exercising, spending time with friends, calling family members, or spending time outdoors. Try experimenting various positive coping skills to find the ones that work best for you!
A note about mindfulness: We hear a lot about mindfulness these days, but what is it actually? Mindfulness is purposeful intention on oneself. The skill of stopping, observing our being (thoughts, feelings, body, breath), and then proceeding. Proceeding can include acceptance of where you are emotionally or it can be meeting the needs you have identified.
A note about gratitude: Taking a few moments, perhaps at the end of the day, to recall 3-5 things from the day that you (student) feel good about: e.g. finishing an assignment; a friendly exchange with a classmate; enjoying dessert or a cup of coffee; appreciating the sunset"”and perhaps jotting them down in a journal in order to return to those moments at another time.