A lot of students experience a significant amount of stress and this stress can have negative effects on their health, happiness, and even their grades to a noticeable extent.
Even the data from a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that teens report stress levels similar to adults.
This means that teens are experiencing significant levels of chronic stress that should not be ignored. Also, these teens feel that the stress they experience exceeds their ability to cope effectively in their environment.
A good number of them report feeling overwhelmed, depressed because of this issue.
Stress is well known to be a factor that affects important health-related behaviors like sleep patterns, diet, and exercise.
Given that almost half of the respondents in the study by the American Psychological Association (AMA) reported completing approximately three hours of homework per night besides their full day of schoolwork and extracurricular work, it is very clear why stress is a big issue for them.
Common Cause of Stress Among College Students
Different studies, even the study by the American Psychological Association (AMA) have found out that much of the stress students face originates from their activities at school.
These studies also show that chronic stress can lead to academic disengagement and mental health problems.
Some of the common causes of stress pointed out by these studies include:
- Extracurricular activities
- Social challenges
- Transitions (i.e graduating, moving out, living independently)
Students most times face the intense competitiveness of taking challenging courses, amassing impressive extracurricular knowledge, studying and acing class tests, deciding important plans that will change their lives.
Still, they have to navigate through the social challenges. Teenagers who choose to go to college after high school continue to suffer stress even after they are admitted into college. The stress becomes even more difficult for them as they have to make new friends, handle a more challenging workload at school, be without parental support most times along with the burden of independent living. Romantic relationships add another layer to their stress too.
What is Stress?
Stress occurs naturally when we face various challenging situations. It is a natural response to life and challenges and most times it is believed that it helps people to focus on actually getting things done while under pressure.
A lot of students feel a need to relieve stress, but they find it difficult to make out time to try new stress relievers to help themselves because of all the activities and responsibilities that leave them with a tight schedule.
This is because they don’t have both knowledge and experience about some of the relatively easy, quick, and relevant options that will help them cope with their stressful lives as students.
As a student, acknowledge that in order to get the best experience out of college education, it is important to understand yourself at an individual level, the stress you are facing, and find out the best strategies you can use to combat stress while in school.
Effective Tips For Stress Management in College
Some of the best strategies students can use to effectively manage their stress while in college are listed below in no particular order:
1. Getting enough sleep:
Most times, students are occupied with various activities at school and are guilty of missing sleep or getting very little of it. Unfortunately, this bad habit puts them at a distinct disadvantage as they operate in a sleep-deprived state.
They become less productive, find it difficult to learn, and sometimes suffer some kind of sickness because they have deprived themselves of sleep for an unhealthy length of time.
As a student, avoid neglecting your sleep schedule. Aim to get yourself at least 8 hours of sleep in a night and take power naps when you need them.
2. Exercise regularly:
A simple way to blow off steam is to get regular exercise. Adding exercise is one of your routines as a student that can work wonders in your life.
Weekly exercise is known to effectively balance your physical and mental reactions to stressful situations in life.
One recent study from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America stated that up to 85% of college students reported feeling overwhelmed by the different activities they had to endure in 2020.
However, as little as 20 minutes of exercise daily can help ease stress, improve your mood, sleep and increase your energy. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
3. Maintain a healthy diet:
You need to keep your immune system in its best state to combat diseases. This means you should give proper attention to your hygiene and also your diet.
Recent scientific studies show that consuming too much sugar affects your immune system negatively and this can mean that your body won’t be ready to fight germs that intrude on your body.
Generally, eating good food packed with nutrients keeps you healthy and makes you feel better. It is better you focus on lean protein, healthy carbs, vegetables, and fruits that help keep your body strong.
4. Seek help for stress and anxiety:
Reach out for some help if you notice you are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety during your time on campus.
Discussing your issues can help them seem more manageable and it’s nice to have a trusted friend that can help.
Choose a friend or family member who won’t be judgemental or try to give lots of advice You can also seek the help of a professional counselor or psychologist in your school. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
5. Avoid unnatural energy boosters:
Using artificial stimulants like caffeine pills or prescription meds may help you stay awake to study all night but, putting off your body’s need to sleep will definitely result in an energy crash, making you even more susceptible to stress. It is just better you don’t fight your body’s sleep schedule all the time. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
6. Practice Visualization:
Guided imagery is an easy and effective way to reduce stress. Visualizations really help you detach from what’s stressing you, help you calm down, and turn off your body’s response to stress.
Also, you can use visualizations to prepare your presentations and score higher on tests by vividly seeing yourself performing just as you would like to.
7. Take calming breaths:
Most times when you are experiencing stress, you often won’t be able to think clearly as you could. An easy and effective way to calm down is to practice breathing exercises.
These breathing exercises require little energy and they can be done virtually anywhere to relieve stress in minutes.
They are especially effective for reducing anxiety before or after tests and also during other times when you are overwhelmed with stress. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
8. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):
This is a great way to relieve stress that can be used during tests, before bed, or even at other times when you are physically wound up by stress.
This technique involves tensing and relaxing all muscles until the whole body is completely relaxed.
This becomes helpful for students because it can be adapted to help relaxation efforts before sleep in order to get a wonderful sound sleep.
Students can always use this to relax and reverse anxiety that comes before and during tests.
9. Listen to music:
Music is a convenient stress reliever that has many cognitive benefits. It is an easy and effective way to help you relieve stress and either calm yourself down or stimulate your mind, depending on what you need at the moment.
Students can enjoy the benefits of music by playing classical music while studying, upbeat music to stay awake mentally, or relax with their favorite melodies.
10. Proper time management:
As a student, the way you assemble and use your time matters a lot. Paying attention to the way you manage time will improve your lifestyle and help you manage stress.
This means that, instead of stressing yourself out each day with a to-do list, try to concentrate and enjoy the extra free hour you gain before the next class.
One major reason many students feel stressed out all the time is that the tendency to always let things off until the last minute which often creates the impression that they are not given enough time to get things done.
Taking things step by step and breaking overwhelming tasks into tiny and more controllable pieces will help to combat procrastination and manage stress effectively.
Also, it is important to understand that all kinds of stress aren’t the same as some stress comes naturally and is even beneficial for our development but knowing how different types of stress may affect you is essential to your mental and physical health.
11. Practice self-care:
It is common that many college students struggle to maintain a steady life rhythm. To them, everything from healthy eating habits, proper sleep, and physical activity seems to be difficult to achieve without the structure of a home where they are guided by the parents or guardian.
Nevertheless, self-care behaviors are important and they help regulate your disposition and cope with stressful situations.
A lot of students cannot acknowledge routine and how it can help them put their lives on track and identify a purpose. Where there is no purpose, there is no life, joy, or energy.
A proper self-care routine is very important as it helps you gain control over your time and better manage stress. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
12. Use positive thinking and affirmations:
Something widely believed is that most optimists actually experience better circumstances in life and partly, their way of thinking helps to create better circumstances.
This habit of positive thinking can bring better health, better relationship,s and even better grades.
Training your brain for more positive self-talk and a brighter future with affirmations and other tools for optimism will turn out to be very beneficial at a personal level.
Also, it is important to learn the limitations of affirmations and caveats of positive thinking so you won’t be working against yourself. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
13. Yoga and mindfulness:
Packed with a lot of information to assimilate and deadlines to keep while being away from home in the comfort of your loved ones, college life can be an overwhelming experience.
Activities like mindfulness and yoga go a long way to help students cope with stress.
While mindfulness helps you become more focused in the present moment and analyze your thoughts and feelings, Yoga helps you maintain your physical flexibility and relieve tension.
Recently, yoga and mindfulness have gained popularity as a useful tool to combat stress and sharpen focus among people from different facets of life mostly because it is often backed by science.
Yoga and mindfulness are an efficient, affordable, and enjoyable tool students can use to reduce stress, increase their productivity and well-being. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
14. Try not to overload yourself:
Students easily fall into the trap of taking more than they can handle between their extracurricular groups and even a job. As a student you should avoid signing up for an excessive number of courses and don’t be afraid to drop one if their burden is too much.
Also, remember that you can turn down requests to organize school events when you already have a lot of things to check.
While you are in school, you are your own parent and you should care for yourself like you would for a child under your care. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
15. Avoid relaxing with alcohol
Taking three or four beers to relieve yourself of stress after a hard day of study may seem logical, but any unresolved stress that you have will come flooding back to you after your temporary buzz subsides.
Also, if you take excess alcohol, you may have to deal with nausea and hangovers later on and you stay at risk of developing alcohol dependence if you take alcohol regularly.
16. Don’t give up on your passions:
Dedicating just a couple of hours each week to pursue a hobby or activity that you enjoy is a great way to relieve yourself of stress as a student. This activity, apart from being a means to relieve stress, helps you to experience peace.
17. Get a massage:
Stress comes because of your muscles being knotted and tight and a massage from a professional massage therapist can help loosen them, providing stress relief.
18. Keep your space tidy:
As a college student, it’s easy for your room or apartment to become disorganized and the last thing you want to happen is searching for your charger while you’re immersed in your project.
A tidy space will have a positive on your mood so always make out time to clean the room and probably do your laundry. This is one of the best effective tips for stress management in college.
Although college can be scary and overwhelming for a lot of students, it is still a rewarding experience. College students experience stress that may often disrupt their academic achievements as well as their social and personal life.
Having a good understanding of the causes of stress, the symptoms and detecting them early enough will help you make better decisions in the future and help you further enjoy the college experience.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
What are the common causes of stress among college students?
The common causes of stress among college students include extracurricular activities, homework, graduating from college, living independently, romantic relationships.
Can alcohol be used as stress relief?
Although can give a feeling of relief, this feeling is usually temporary. Therefore, alcohol is not a healthy option.
What is an effective way of managing stress in college?
While in college, routine exercise, good sleep, a healthy diet, meditation, yoga and mindfulness, and many other ways mentioned in this article, will help you manage stress effectively.
How do you manage your time in college?
While there are several ways to manage your time as a college student, identifying time-wasters, planning with a to-do list, doing one thing at a time, establishing routines, etc will go a long way to help you.
What are the 4 As of stress management?
They are Adapt, Alter, Accept and Adapt
Does stress affect academic performance?
Yes, students who manage stress effectively tend to perform well than those who manage stress poorly.