A college student’s life can be exciting and fulfilling. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a more seasoned student, college life will force you to learn to juggle academics, work, socialization and recreation with the inevitable stress that comes with college. However, by dealing with stress in healthy ways, you will notice an improvement in your academic and social life, and you’ll feel calmer, healthier and more energetic.
Read below for some simple, natural ways to help relieve college stress.
Make a List of Everything That Stresses You
Heed the advice of Dr. Paul J. Rosch, M.D., president of the American Institute of Stress. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half lengthwise. Use the left side to list the stressors that you know you can change. On the right side, list all of the stressors that you know you can’t change. Use the sheet as a reminder that it is pointless to succumb to anxiety over things that can’t be changed.
Go for a Walk
A brief outdoor walk on a sunny day can do wonders to relieve the stress you are feeling. Sunlight is arguably the best source of Vitamin D. The combination of physical activity and Vitamin D may raise the endorphin and serotonin levels in your body. When engaging in any aerobic activity, the exertion pushes your body into deeper breathing. Other benefits include better oxygen and blood circulation throughout your body.
Indulge in Some Antioxidant-Rich Yumminess
Before reaching the point at which stress becomes overwhelming, give yourself permission to fill your body with dark chocolate or dark chocolate-covered strawberries. Dark chocolate, (not milk or white) is a rich source of antioxidants that may be powerful enough to lower the level of stress-causing hormones such as cortisol in the body.
Develop Time-Management Strategies
If you’re like many college students, you may have mastered the “art” of procrastination. While you may not have had to deal with the consequences of procrastinating as a high school student, you may or may not already have had a rude awakening upon entering college.
One of the best and most effective ways to minimize stress levels as a student is by learning how to manage your time. Buy or make a yearly personal planner. Or, get a whiteboard calendar to hang on the wall. Use your calendar and planner to keep track of assignment deadlines, quizzes, exams, research or other project due dates. If your school schedules campus social activities, mark those as well.
When writing all of the important academic and social dates on your planner and wall calendar, you can’t come up with an excuse for forgetting about those deadlines. Hopefully, you’ll look at the constant reminder as a guide that can help you create a study schedule that will ensure every deadline is met without having to master a half a semester’s worth of material the day before the midterm.
Don’t Discount the Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle
The extent to which you go to make sure you are eating healthy foods, getting enough exercise and sleep, and cutting down on caffeine and sugar consumption will go a long way toward helping your body maintain the strength it needs to protect you from the potential physical and emotional damage that stress can cause.
Don’t succumb to the temptation to consume alcohol, drugs or smoke cigarettes. You may wind up paying for the temporary escape that you get from these substances, because of the damage they are known to inflict on your body.
There is no way to avoid all stress. However, you don’t have to let it control your life or cause physical or mental anxiety. By learning to engage in healthy activities and applying the practical skills mentioned above, you will be able to take advantage of these stress-relieving outlets for the rest of your life.