Students are no stranger to stress, especially when the final exam approaches. It’s okay to be anxious, but it’s important not to let the stress completely overwhelm you. Before you can begin to deal with your stress, however, you need to understand what may be causing it.
- Recognize when you’re stressed: Identify what your key stressors are whether it’s a big project at work, exams, social situations, finances, etc. If you can anticipate what might cause you stress, you may be better able to prepare for stress when it happens.
- Learn how you deal with stress: Everyone deals with stress differently. Some become anxious and agitated, others become lethargic and depressed. Find activities or actions that correspond with how you deal with stress. For example, if you tend to feel anxious as a result of stress, find calming activities to help you relax like listening to music or reading. If you feel tired when you're stressed, find activities to keep you active, like taking a walk.
Once you know what causes your stress and how you respond to it, you’ll be better equipped to manage your stress. Here are seven tips to help reduce your stress:
1. Seek out support
Being alone can be isolating, so it’s a good idea to have family or friends to rely on who can provide support. Give them a call to talk through how you’re feeling or get together to do something fun. They might be able to provide comfort or a new perspective on your situation. You may even help others with their stress levels in the process!
Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter releases endorphins in your brain that relieves stress and lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. Take a break and find something that will make you laugh whether that’s watching a sitcom or a comedian, calling a friend to chat or reading a comic.
3. Write it down
Journaling can be a great way to express your emotions and mentally work through problems. It doesn’t have to be formal writing, but can be an outlet to release what you’re feeling or review what is going on in your life. Your journal can be in a physical notebook or be written on your computer – there’s no right or wrong way to journal!
4. Have a balanced diet
A healthy diet can alter how you are feeling. Foods that are high in starch, sugar and fat can make you feel lethargic. To combat this tired feeling, many students rely on caffeine. While caffeine can be a great stimulant to keep you awake and productive, too much of it can make you jittery and anxious. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet as well as vitamins and minerals that can help you stay energized and focused.
Stress sometimes activates our fight or flight response, so it can be helpful to exercise to burn off that energy. A walk around the block, yoga or stretching are low-intensity activities that may help reduce stress. If you’re partial to high-intensity workouts, you can exercise right in your own home doing exercises such as lunges, squats, sit-ups, etc.
6. Express gratitude
By focusing on the things that you are grateful for, you help your mind concentrate on positives instead of negatives. Create a list of things, both big and small, that you are grateful for, such as being able to go to school, having a roof over your head or having family and friends to rely on. Chances are, once you start this list, you’ll find a lot that you are grateful for!
7. Learn to say “no”
When you already have a lot on your plate, it’s important to learn to say "no" to other commitments. You can easily overwhelm yourself by taking on too much, but saying no can help you manage your time to ensure you don’t fall behind on any projects or assignments. It’s okay to say no even if you just need some time to yourself to unwind and de-stress. Know your limits and how much you can handle to make sure your mental and physical health are prioritized.
Need more stress management tips? Herzing University offers support services to help you address any educational or personal issues that may arise.