Let’s face it, college can be very stressful. Between carrying a full-time course load, work-study or a part-time job, internships, exams, papers due, finding time for friends, and keeping in touch with your family, it can all be too much. Some stress may be healthy, but too much of it will make you very sick.
According to womenshealth.gov, stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
So that you are not completely overwhelmed and are able to fully enjoy your college experience, here are some inexpensive ways you can cope with stress.
Exercise — Go for a walk or run in park, play sports, take dance lessons, yoga, or Zumba classes, go swimming. All of these are great ways to be active, and most of these activities are free or can be done for a very low cost at a community center or on your college campus.
Get enough sleep — There is a stereotype of the average college student pulling all nighters trying to write a paper at the last minute, or cram for mid-terms. Not sleeping is bad for your health. A lack of sleep causes the body to not function properly and could land you in the hospital. Try to get your assignments done ahead of time, and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Eat well — Too much late night pizza, fast-food, chips and sweets are not good for your health. Not only will you gain weight and have acne, eating lots of junk food will leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic. Try selecting healthier options from the cafeteria that include fresh fruits and vegetables.
Journal — Journaling allows you to record not just the events of your day, but it also helps you to sort through your emotions. If you are feeling stressed, writing about your problems often helps you to feel better. If you don’t enjoy writing perhaps you can use art in your journal as an alternative. Keep a pencil and sketchpad handy, and draw whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.
Join a club — Joining one of the various clubs on your campus is a great way to get involved in an activity you enjoy or are passionate about while making new friends. See the campus activities director for more information on the clubs available on campus or how to start one of your own.
Plan for the Weekend — Create a list of a few fun things you are looking forward to doing over the weekend. Sleeping in, a long brunch in the cafeteria, a matinee movie with friends, a trip to a museum, window shopping at the mall etc., are all inexpensive activities that you can look forward to on the weekend.
Volunteer — Giving back helps you to feel better. There is a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when you are able to volunteer and make some one’s life better. Volunteering helps you to take the focus off of your problems, or stresses. You can volunteer at a local food bank, animal shelter, literacy agency, elementary school, hospital and so much more. Check out volunteer opportunities on Fastweb.
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Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.
Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
As a student, every spare minute seems to be filled with worrying – you feel like you have to achieve something and make plans for your future. Instead of relaxing in the holidays, you're planning an internship to add to your CV, or working to earn some well-needed extra cash.
If you're not careful, working too hard and worrying too much can lead to "burnout" – when everything seems bleak and you have nothing left to give.
It might not seem like it when you're feeling down, but living a more stress free life is possible. There are some really easy ways to beat stress effectively. Here are some that I have encountered as a student:
1. A varied and healthy diet
Eating fresh ingredients and lots of fruit is really important. Juices filled with vitamin C, such as orange or grapefruit juice, are said to be good for your immune system so can help with stress.
When you're busy and tired it can be tempting just to grab another pizza or ready meal, but cooking from scratch can be therapeutic as well as being healthier.
Doing sport at least once a week is the best way to reduce stress. It helps your body produce endorphins, which make you feel good. Even daily walks of 30 minutes can help reduce stress levels but it's even better to work out intensively. Even if you don't feel like it at the time you will feel the benefits afterwards.
Joining a sports club could also help with stress as the regular contact with other people should help improve your mood.
And why not try yoga? It's a great way to ease your mind and relax your muscles.
It might sound simple, but sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day can really help with stress levels. If you've never tried meditation before, it's worth a go.
Good breathing techniques can put you in a more relaxed state as they send oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm you down and beat the stress.
4. Take breaks regularly
Short breaks between working can help you switch off. But longer breaks are important too.
How about taking the weekend off to relax? Make time for fun and for yourself even if this means that you have to schedule time away from your work. You'll hopefully come back to your work feeling fresh.
5. Get a pet
It is said that spending time with animals is good for your health. If you pat a dog for a couple of minutes, your body releases hormones that make you feel happy and can decrease the amount of stress in your system.
Most uni halls won't let you keep an animal though, so spending some time with friends or family who have pets is a good option: you get the love without the commitment.
6. Sleep (and sign off Facebook)
Sleep is always the best medicine and some people find that small 20-minute naps can help increase productivity.
As students we tend to spend too much time on social media sites and answering emails, texts and phone calls. Sociability is fun – but too much of it, and too much computer time, can lead to more stress.
Failing to switch off from work because of your electronic gadgets will only make you even more stressed.
7. Quit smoking
Some people say they smoke to relax, but researchers on the European Board for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco suggest that nicotine suppresses the hormone serotonin, which fights stress. Another good reason to quit.
8. Try to see the positive side
If you missed a deadline, try to appreciate what you learned from this mistake: now you know how to plan ahead. Things might seem bad, but if you try, there is usually something positive to be learned.
9. Listen to music
Listening to music can help calm you down and put you in a better frame of mind. If you're feeling stressed, putting on some calming music while you work could really help.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it's really true. Laughing out loud increases oxygen and blood flow which automatically reduces stress.
Not taking life too seriously can help everyone live a better and easier life. Make time for yourself, log out of Twitter and take breaks. It's about time that we students accept that we can achieve just as much in life without all the stress.
How do you manage stress? Share your tips in the comments section below