The hustle and bustle of college life can often be chaotic and a little bit stressful. Sometimes, the stress can feel like it is magnified. Understanding your stress and learning ways to manage it are an important part of enjoying your life in college and helping you avoid negative coping strategies, such as drug or alcohol abuse, that can derail your education. Here are a few tips for managing your stress in a healthy way:
Understand Your Stress
According to researchers, there are two main types of stress. Acute stress is the body’s immediate reaction to a perceived threat, such as an impending deadline or an argument with a co-worker, and is often short-lived. Chronic stress occurs when acute stressors build up over time, such as the absence of a loved one. Consider keeping a stress journal to keep track of when you feel stressed or anxious, and identify whether they are internal or external stressors. Internal stressors come from your own thoughts and beliefs, while external stressors are things that are out of your control such as a deployment or medical rehabilitation.
Once you’ve grasped what is causing your stress, find healthy ways to manage it. How you cope with your stress will be unique to you, so consider activities you enjoy doing such as exercising, listening to music, cooking, walking the dog, or spending time with friends and family. Remember that part of managing stress involves taking care of yourself, so remember the basics – eat, sleep, breathe. Don’t skip any meals and keep energy-boosting snacks nearby. When you are stressed, your body needs extra sleep and rest, so strive for eight hours of sleep each night. Make sure your home is a relaxing space so you can unwind. If possible, incorporate naps throughout the day to reenergize and relax, or participate in other relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or breathing to relieve stress and clear your head. Sometimes stress can’t be managed on its own, so talk with a doctor if you feel that you need professional help to manage your stress.
Find Ways to Connect
If you are away from your loved ones, finding ways to connect with them could be beneficial. Communicate via video chat, social media, text, or email if phone calls and/or visits aren’t always in the cards. If possible, set up a time to call them daily or weekly to keep them updated on your life and to see what’s going on with them. When you make the call, try to find a quiet, comfortable area where you can relax and be in the moment.
Another great way to both relieve stress and stay connected to loved ones is a blog. If you are feeling extra stressed or missing them more than usual on a particular day, blog your feelings and use it as an outlet to express your thoughts and emotions. The blog is also a great way for your loved one to stay updated through pictures and videos. Handwritten letters can serve as an outlet as well, and receiving a letter in the mail could be a big boost to your spirits.
Each situation is unique, and some may be more stressful or demanding than others. As you experience life in college, away from your loved ones, remember that feeling stressed or sad is normal. Find ways to manage your stress and stay connected with your loved ones to ease your negative feelings and help them feel included.