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Tips for How to Handle College Stress

College has long been considered an important rite of passage, opportunity for rich self discovery, and chance to tackle new challenges. Whether it's social matters, such as making friends and fitting in, or academic difficulties that cause students to overwork themselves, it’s important for members of the student body support system to help each student discover healthy mechanisms for managing stress. Below are some tips for supporting students as they learn to manage the stressors of college.

Get Enough Sleep

There's been plenty of research over the years proving how damaging lack of sleep is to the body, brain, and general mental health of a person. As a program manager or team leader, remind students the importance of creating and maintaining a weekly schedule. Between attending classes, students should carve out time for studying, exercise, participating in clubs and activities, and enjoy campus events. Building in time for rest and making sure to keep some evenings free of social activities will allow students to dedicate energy to relaxation. With a restful night’s sleep, students will be able to focus better and maintain a healthier outlook on their workload.

Ways to Help Relieve Stress

When we’re stressed out, our bodies tense up and we physically clench our muscles. There are as many ways to relieve stress as there are types of people. Some options include practicing yoga, journaling, playing a musical instrument, listening to music, playing a sport, watching a movie, or playing a board game. Squeezing a stress ball releases tension and gradually helps the body relax. Working out frustrations with a stress ball also helps break down mental blocks that get in the way of expressing fears, concerns, and anxieties. Sometimes a simple, cheeky reminder that it’s ok to talk about

Another important way to reduce stress can be achieved by controlling the surrounding environment. Keeping a clean room, maintaining an organized work space, having healthy snacks on hand, and using essential oils are all great ways to decrease stress. Students can use essential oils for their aromatic or topical properties to help reduce stress and ease tension, enhance energy levels, and positively impact mood. Exposing the senses to strong-smelling essential oils can improve hormone production, brain chemistry, and lower stress levels.

Make Social Media Work

Social Media has changed the way people communicate with each other. It certainly has benefits, but can also be incredibly distracting or cause anxiety for some. Share strategies with students for how to make the most of their social media accounts, like limiting social media use to specific blocks of time during the day. Remind students to have a period of screen-free time before bed each night to help unwind, calm the mind, and promote better sleep.

Find a Hobby

Having a hobby isn't just good for coping with stress, it can also help students narrow down what kind of career direction to take. Many students choose majors based on what careers are the highest paying, but the most fulfilled people in the professional world are those that do what they love for a living. It's not uncommon for driven, successful students to spin their hobbies into post-college careers. Encourage students to try out new activities by joining clubs or intramural sports teams.

Take Care of Mind and Body

Exercise and healthy eating are key ingredients to support a healthy lifestyle and manage stress. Working out is vital for maintaining mental health and can be very effective at reducing fatigue, strengthening concentration, and improving overall mood. Along with exercising, a healthy diet should be a part of every student’s lifestyle. Nutrition has been linked with emotional, physical, and cognitive health. Eating plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein gives the brain and body valuable vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy.

Finding the most effective way for students to manage stress in college can be a challenging process, but it’s helpful to remember that different strategies will be successful for different students. Maintaining a healthy social life and getting good grades will be easier and more manageable when students can identify major stressors and understand several methods that they can use to relieve stress.

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