Being in college is more than just a stage in your life. Whether you are at the first stage of applying for college or writing an essay and preparing for tests, higher education can be a scary and stressful experience. Some courses may turn out to be more stressful than others, but in general, they are all crowded with deadlines, reading lists, and challenging exams. Additionally, most college students should prepare to adapt to a whole new next step in their life, moving to another city or another country. But why is it so important to manage stress and how can we do it?
IS STRESS MANAGEMENT REALLY IMPORTANT?
When your stress gets out of control, it hampers creativity and reduces productivity, which is an important reason why college students avoid it. Additionally, sustained stress might become a potential cause of disease. Stress affects our immune system; it changes the way our white blood cells respond to pathogens. What’s more, stress causes chronic inflammation and may even increase your chance of getting autoimmune diseases.
In studies performed among college students, researchers usually report that students with more perceived stress experience the onset of various diseases more frequently, and typically have lower levels of self-esteem. To cope with stress, some would turn to smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs, but that only makes things worse. Instead, there are many healthy activities college students can take to manage stress successfully.
7 ACTIVITIES TO PREVENT AND OVERCOME STRESS
One of the best ways to relieve stress in college is to enroll in sports or any outdoor activity involving physical exercise. Studies show that exercise reduces the perceived levels of stress, and their authors explain that moderate physical activity releases endorphins and improves our mood. A good exercise session is one you actually enjoy and provides a way to clear your mind before getting back to your essay.
Sometimes, staying indoors for long hours reading or studying is enough to feel stressed out and moody. If that’s your case, go ahead and program some outdoors activities. At first, you might get the feeling you’re wasting your time, but when you get back to your room, you will realize it will be easier to focus and keep your mind sharp.
Try meditation and breathing techniques
Meditation and breathing are both easy to do, they are not time-consuming, and have pretty good results when it comes to managing stress. It is an activity you can carry around and practice just before an exam or presentation without anyone else even realizing. But before you try it on stressful situations, practice breathing techniques daily and devote at least 5 minutes of your time to meditation and mindfulness.
When breathing to relax, don’t move your chest but your belly instead. This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and studies show it lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Diaphragmatic breathing also increases parasympathetic activity in the nervous system, which contributes to feeling calm and relaxed.
In recent times, adults are starting to buy coloring books. Not for their children but for themselves. Adult coloring has become a new trend in bookstores, and there are already scientific studies on how this apparently simple activity results in a meaningful reduction in the levels of stress and depression.
In a 2017 study, a group of university students took adult coloring as a daily habit, and they were measured for anxiety, depressive symptoms, stress, and other variables. The studies showed that daily coloring lowers the levels of anxiety and even improves depressive symptoms. It is not expensive, and it’s a useful self-help tool we can’t possibly miss.
Music has a strong influence on us. It can make us happier, evoke memories, tears, and deep emotions. Studies show that using some types of music can make a difference and cause a significant reduction in perceived levels of stress. When listening to songs, our favorite music turns out to be more meaningful than others, especially if their rhythm is smooth and calming.
However, there are two ways of listening to music. Attentive music listening is a type of conscious listening in which we are careful to hear every sound of the music playing. On the other hand, passive listening is common when multitasking or using music as a background. Studies show that passive listening does not really change our levels of stress, so if you want to use music therapy properly, pay attention and immerse yourself in your favorite tunes.
We are social individuals, no matter what. We can’t last long weeks and months without meaningful social interaction. And it’s not only about talking to others but finding comfort in our social network instead. It’s about enjoying life with all of the people surrounding us, or at least just a few. That’s the difference between being alone and feeling lonely.
You will never feel lonely if your relationships are meaningful, and every time you meet one of those significant friends or relatives, you will see how stress levels drain down to zero. So, don’t seclude yourself for too long. Keep in contact with those you love the most, and make those moments valuable.
Schedule your goals
However, it might be difficult to set aside enough time to stay social, practice mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, coloring, exercise, and music therapy. If you really want to do all of this and get rid of stress, you need to build a consistent schedule. Set aside a time each week to schedule your upcoming activities. Set clear goals for each week, break those down in small steps for each day, and stop procrastinating.
If you schedule your activities and check your progress continually, you won’t feel panicked when there’s only one week to prepare for mid-terms. So, include “scheduling my goals” on your calendar, you don’t need to devote more than 20 minutes to this activity, and it will save many hours in the long run.
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