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Too Much Stress in College: Best Ways to Cope with It – 2024 Tips

There are thousands of books and articles written about stress, its consequences, and the ways to deal with it. Still, as it seems, there is always something else that should be said, something that could help another human being live through hard times, preserve health and sanity, and learn to turn that challenging experience into a valuable opportunity for personal growth. We can talk endlessly about stress because it is just an integral part of being human. Everybody has suffered from extreme psychological pressure at this or that moment in their lives. And yet, every single case is unique, being a peculiar combination of various stressors and a multitude of other factors. 

College students are especially prone to feeling anxious and stressed. When fatigue, homesickness, uncertainty about the future, and lack of sleep pile up, young people become more vulnerable to stressors which otherwise would not have affected them. Unfortunately, students often do not realize that health problems they suffer from can be caused by stress. The American Institute of Stress singles out 50 main signs and symptoms of stress which include frequent headaches, body aches, muscle spasms, upset stomach pain, nausea, rapid pulse, weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, constant tiredness, decreased libido, weakness, etc.

Moreover, according to AIS, stress can lead to such serious problems as difficulty concentrating, trouble learning new information, forgetfulness, disorganization, and reduced productivity. These issues are of increased importance for college students who have to rely on their memory and cognitive efficiency on a daily basis. This is why it is so important to be able to recognize the symptoms of stress and learn to cope with them. You cannot avoid stressful situations altogether because they are an intrinsic part of human life, but you can train your body and mind to cope with the negative effects of stress and even turn them into a useful experience.

Take Loving Care Of Yourself: Sleep, Eat, Exercise

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There is a golden principle that will help you boost your immunity against stress. Practice healthy self-love! “Take good, loving care of yourself,” says J. David Forbes, MD, a physician specializing in stress management. “You are your own parent from here on out. Start caring for yourself like you would for a child in your charge.” So, if you were your own parent, would you allow yourself to spend sleepless nights over homework? Would you let yourself skip meals or munch down tons of fast food? Sleep around 8 hours per night, eat regular healthy meals and exercise for at least 15 minutes every day, and you will see your productivity go through the roof. Your creativity will flourish. And, finally, you will notice that things you were so anxious about do not give you a headache anymore. This does not mean you will not experience stress. But your body will have enough resources to cope with it effectively. 

Be Yourself – Your Best Self

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It seems to be only logical that college students often sacrifice their hobbies and interests for the sake of academic productivity. When there is not enough time for studies and exam preparation, how could one relax and engage in something as peaceful as painting, baking, photography, or birdwatching? But, surprisingly enough, this is precisely what you should do if you want to keep your sanity. “Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax,” wrote Matt Haig in his insightful and honest memoir Reasons to Stay Alive.

So, do not overload yourself and pursue a hobby. If you do not have one, this is the right time to look for things you are passionate about and use them to fuel your motivation and maintain a high energy level. The good news is that reading, doing sports, and volunteering are also hobbies. A perfect choice is journaling. It will provide a creative outlet for your anxiety and also help you improve your writing skills. If you are not a born writer, you might start with one of the journaling apps for beginners – Five Minute Journal, Daylio, or Grid Diary. Basically, almost anything can be turned into a hobby; the main requirement is for you to really enjoy what you are doing.

Get Organized

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Quite often, college students experience severe stress caused by procrastination, missed deadlines, excessive workload resulting from an unbalanced study regime. There is a very simple and effective solution to this grave problem – you should finally get organized and actually do things. Study as much as you can without sacrificing your health, do not procrastinate, make a plan and stick to it, persist, and stay motivated – the results will surprise you! There are plenty of apps and services that can help you tackle this mission. You could try using Focus To-Do, an app based on the Pomodoro technique, or Todoist, a convenient task-management tool. can help you deal with your fear of a low grade and teach you the mechanics of academic writing. Whatever you choose, do not pull any all-nighters and do not forget to eat and exercise. 

Socialize and Be Supportive

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Fred Rogers, a famous TV host and book author, once wrote that “in times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts.” Indeed, being a good listener is an integral part of being a good friend. When you feel stressed, talk to your friends and family, share your worries with them, but also ask how they feel, offer help, be supportive. You will notice that love, sympathy, and compassion will make your own burden much lighter and easier to carry. 

Unwind and Breathe

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“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath,” says Amit Ray, a prominent AI researcher and spiritual teacher. Breathing is the most accessible and universal tool for reducing stress. You can try various breathing exercises such as belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, or roll breathing to help you manage your anxiety. A great idea would be to start doing yoga and practicing mindfulness. If you do not know where to begin, Five-Minute Mindfulness Meditation could be a wonderful opportunity to experience positive effects that meditation can offer without preparation and training. You can do it anytime, anywhere, for example, after class, during a lunch break, or before going to sleep. 

There are so many things that will not only help you reduce the negative consequences of stress, but also make your life happier. You can always try aromatherapy, tai chi, or massage. Experiment and see what works best for you. Invest in your sanity time, and results will be forthcoming.

About Suzan Vega