Coping with stress as a student

When you look back to the times while you were still at college, you might want that life back. But if you’re still a student, you still have no idea what your older friends or relatives are talking about. What do you mean you want that life back? Sleep deprived, constantly under stress, running on coffee and ramen, the thought of finals creeping from behind and giving you a cold embrace. Why do you want all of that back?

Recent studies show that more than half of the college students in the United States feel stressed 12 out of 12 months in the year, more often than they don’t. Often times the stress that school brings can turn into a more serious issue like anxiety and depression. However, often times students have nowhere to turn to or can not afford proper mental health training skills, therapy and support. So they just stay stressed.

While some amount of stress is always normal and keeps us alert - too much stress can be hard to deal with and can take over our ability to be productive and achieve our goals.

If you’re a student experiencing a lot of stress, remember that there are ways to reduce the amount of stress you’re dealing with.

Self care, self care, self care…

You come first. Your sleep is a priority. Sounds cliche, but seriously, get that 8 hours of sleep at night. They truly do wonders. Make sure that you’re well rested. When we are well rested, our ability to perform is higher - simple as that.

Priorities and organizing time

As hard as it can be to deal with student loans, deadlines or annoying professors, sometimes we really do bring a lot of the stress to ourselves. It is important that you set your priorities straight. Planning your day ahead can always help you execute more efficiently. Setting smaller and achievable goals throughout the day, separating the big day into smaller chunks and thinking things through beforehand can give you a good idea about how things are going to go.

Give it a try, you might see after all that the day isn’t as overwhelming as it might seem.

Although being a student is kind of like a full time job itself, it is important that you make some time for yourself. Work with a plan. Develop a routine based on how you roll. Reserve a certain time of the day for studying, a certain time for seeing friends, and some time just to yourself, too, so you can self-reflect, unwind and do something that’s going to relax you. Often we stress over things that we can’t control, so when you give yourself the time to self-reflect, you will learn what are the things that need to be eliminated from the stress bucket.

Eating healthy

Being a student for most of us is always just a step away from being broke, so sometimes when you’re on a budget it is really heartbreaking to eat a salad when you can eat a burger. However, you should try and eat as healthy as you possibly can. Good foods give you good energy, and you need plenty of it to be productive and avoid the tons of stress that comes with procrastinating.

Cut the coffee, energy drinks and alcohol

It’s a students best friend. Feels so nice in the morning. Smells so good. But can it give you a sweet rush of overwhelming thoughts? Oh, yes. Try to replace the coffee and energy drinks with some cold lemon water or a glass of fresh orange juice while you’re up at 2AM revising. These are the small changes that go a long way.

Do not relieve stress with alcohol because you won’t. You’ll just kind of forget about it until it comes back to you the next morning with the most horrible headache and nausea.

Replace the irrational and unrealistic thoughts with more rational ones

“If I fail this exam I’ll fail the semester, I’ll fail college, I’ll never get a job and I’ll end up living on the street, this is so horrible.” Wait a little bit! Are you being totally realistic about this right now?

Learning how to replace irrational thoughts with thoughts that are more rational will cut out the stress we experience while brain-tripping like this. Practicing meditation, having a healthy distraction like exercise or playing an instrument can help you calm this rush of negative thoughts, and give you an opportunity to replace them with more rational ones.

There are many meditation apps you can download for free and use for short meditation/mindfulness sessions, as well as affirmations that can help you focus on your goal and motivate you to keep going.

Reach out to your community

The community of students is global and yes, all of them have experienced stress to some extent. In these modern days you can find plenty of support groups online, or you can even start one yourself in your community. Talk to fellow students about stress, share tips on how to reduce it. Sometimes the reason why we end up feeling so stressed is because we think we’re the only one struggling with that one horrible exam or with procrastination. In fact, most of us do it all the time.

Don’t isolate yourself if you’re feeling too overwhelmed. Ask for help. Study with your colleagues, talk to your friends and family and get the emotional support that you need.

Being a student is not easy, but neither are other things in life. Stress is natural when we’re striving and achieving - and there are many things that you can do to reduce its presence in your life. Keep your focus on the goal and remember not to worry about things that you can no control. Giving the best you can give at this moment is doing the best that you can, and that is actually good enough. Developing habits and routines that will help you cope with the stress will last you a lifetime. Without a doubt you’ll need them!

Emma V.