There is no denying that university can be stressful. It’s a complete lifestyle change. You’re moving to and living in a new environment, you’ve got the pressure of making new friends, course work is a far cry from what you are used to, and testing is unpredictable and difficult. While we’d love to tell you that university is all fun, freedom and no worries… we’d be lying. University is one of the most exciting times in any student’s life, but it is also jam-packed with stress.
Here are 7 ways to reduce stress while you are in school.
1. Talk to someone
Emotional support can go a long way. Sometimes having a good vent session can do wonders for the mind. Ask a friend to lend an ear, give your parents a phone call or go to a university counselor to start. Being able to talk about what’s bothering you or stressing you out can lift a huge burden off of your shoulders. Whomever you speak with may be able to offer some insight or tips on how to make your life a little easier. If that’s not enough, you may consider talking to a professional psychologist – you can get a recommendation from a university counselor.
2. Make sure you are getting enough sleep
Not everyone needs a full 8 hours of sleep, but you should shoot for it regardless. In school, you will likely find yourself staying up much later than you ever have, and on a semi-regular basis. Whether you’re studying at the library into the wee hours of the morning or you and your friends thought it would be a great idea to throw a Sunday night party – late nights are inevitable. You may tell yourself that going to bed at 3AM when you have an 8AM class is no big deal… but it is! Your exhaustion WILL inevitably catch up with you and your school work WILL suffer – thus leading to stress. Try to get to bed no later than midnight when you have class the next morning so you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day, stress-free.
3. Find time to exercise
Whether you join a club sports team or you go to the rec center / gym in between classes, exercise is vital. It isn’t healthy to hunch over a book or stare at a computer screen at your desk for hours on end without getting up to stretch yourself out and get your blood flowing. Find an activity that you enjoy doing and fit it into your schedule like you would one of your classes – even if you only have 20-30 minutes to spare. Exercise is notoriously known as a stress-reliever, and you can guarantee you will feel a lot better afterwards.
4. Steer clear of excess caffeine and unnatural energy supplements
Students around the globe are guilty of over-indulging in unnatural energy boosters that do nothing but increase their heartrates, keep them awake long after they should be sleeping and ultimately, lead them to an energy crash. There’s nothing wrong with a coffee pick-me-up but don’t fall victim to energy drinks, caffeine pills and the prescription medications that are unfortunately too easy to access on the average campus. It can be tempting to pop a pill when you know you need to be up late studying for your finals or writing your research paper, but that type of “support” does more harm to your body than good. If your body is telling you that it needs rest… let it. Otherwise you may be prone to added stress on the mind and body.
5. Maintain a balanced diet
Rather than indulging in unnatural energy boosters… try to introduce natural energy boosters to your diet. Again, it can be totally tempting to order takeout, eat junk food snacks and opt for the dining commons pizza over the salad, but this will only make you feel gross. An unhealthy diet contributes to a decrease in energy levels and does not offer any long-term benefits. What do you think comes next? Stress. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Your body will thank you.
6. Limit your alcohol intake
You are finally free from home, there are loads of parties going on each weekend and you are of drinking age (hopefully)… of course you want to party! But, relying on alcohol to decrease stress or take your mind off of work is not the answer. Not only may that lead to a more serious problem, but the after effects are simply not worth it. Waking up with a hangover when you have an early morning class will likely lead to you skipping said class. Then falling behind in said class. Then performing poorly in said class. Then stressing about your grade and catching up in said class. Limit yourself to drinking on the weekends, at most, and only consuming one or two, rather than drinking to get drunk.
7. Avoid an overloaded schedule
Perhaps you’re trying to graduate early, or maybe you are working to get more than one degree during your time at university, or, you could simply be trying to fit in some extra hours at work… that’s great! However, it may be too much. It’s nice to be ambitious and all, but being super busy is not always a good thing. If you try to fit too much into your limited schedule, you’ll find yourself feeling overwhelmed, and the quality of your work may suffer. If you feel like you bit off more than you can chew, talk to a guidance counselor about your options. You may consider dropping a class or taking some time off from one of your extracurriculars until you are able to find balance.
It is not uncommon to feel stress while you are in university. In fact, if you didn’t at some point or another… that would be unusual. Your peers are feeling it too. You are not alone. Make these simple adjustments for a stress-free and productive experience.