College is a new step in life. It is new surroundings, new people, and higher academic standards. Therefore, some students suffer from stress and difficult emotional conditions. The reasons may be both internal and external. Its usual symptoms include stress eating, sleeping disorders, anxiety, lack of concentration, tremor, and headaches. Stress cannot be underestimated as it may result in depression. As the Vaden Health Center reports, if anxiety levels remain high for a long period, students may face lowered immunity, stomachaches, and increased blood pressure.
How to cope with college stress? Here are two main steps:
- Identify any possible reasons of stress. It may be forthcoming exams, tense relations with your roommates, any forms of harassment or public speaking.
- Find out more about the ways to reduce stress and anxiety and practice them.
What Exactly Causes Stress?
Here are the most common situations which stress students out:
- Exams and homework. Tough exam time and worries about grades is the most common cause of stress among students. They are overwhelmed by deadlines, difficult assignments, and coursework.
- Finances. Most students have to balance their academic obligations with a low-paying job. Some of them work long hours and have less time for studying. Therefore, they often suffer from financial problems they face and even have to skip classes not to be late for work.
- Living among new people and any conflicts related to it. Many students often find campus life and unfamiliar environment stressful. Arguments with roommates or conflicts in the dorm may become an additional source of anxiety and even fear.
- Problems with work and post-graduate life. Students are concerned about their current work and the unknown future. They are afraid to get a job they don’t really want. Some students eventually realize that their major is not their real passion.
- Independence and new schedule. College is usually the first time when students live far away from home and relatives. They may be afraid of the new level of independence, societal expectations, new curriculum or higher academic demands with much homework they cannot cope with. Among tips to reduce stress, in this case, is time management.
- Complicated relationships. Unlike adults, students are still developing emotionally, and it may be harder for them to survive breakup or betrayal. Some students may even skip classes and lose contacts with reality.
- Any forms of harassment. According to the College Harassment Survey, approximately 70% students suffered from harassment on campus on the basis of race, behavior or sexual orientation. It may result in severe forms of stress. In this case, they must seek the assistance of their Faculty Dean, college coach or specialized officers.
Influence of Stress: Some Figures and Statistics
Let’s have a look at some figures and statistics concerning anxiety among college students and stress.
The Associated Press reports that 20% students suffer from anxiety most of the time, and 10% thought of suicide. According to ADAA, 80% of students feel stressed from time to time.
Nearly 70% said they worry about personal finances as more than 60% of students use loans to pay tuition fees. Some students noted that high school prepares them for college curriculum, but does not adjust them emotionally to new surroundings. Independent living skills aren’t taken into account.
According to a survey carried out by the American College Health Association in 2015, approximately 60% of students feel overwhelming anxiety at least once a year. Only 2% never feels stressed as MentalHelp.net shows. The report also shows three main reasons of anxiety: final or midterm exams, job future, and workload. What is interesting, girls are much more concerned about classes and homework.
As may be seen from this data, stress is a serious problem which needs much attention.
10 Ways to Reduce Stress
How to reduce stress in your life? Here are some tips you should consider:
- Think of time management. A feeling of control and time management is an indispensable part of reducing stress. Have a look at your schedule and figure out how to achieve good academic results and have time for relaxation. Start a calendar or a journal to keep notes of special events and positive thoughts. Also, try to avoid procrastination as it increases stress and lowers quality of your studies.
- Healthy eating. When it comes to stress reduction, what you eat may help stabilize your emotional response. Most students consume too much coffee or eat on the run during their exams. These habits negatively affect your health. Did you know that certain food can improve your mood? Eat more bananas, dark chocolate, and nuts.
- Leisure activities. Think of any activities that inspire you. It may be shopping, hanging out with friends, spa, massage, a short trip to a nice place, or going to the cinema or theatre. It is one of the most effective methods for reducing stress.
- Talk to someone. First of all, seek support from your family and friends. They can “feed” you emotionally and give advice. Talk you your therapist, and if you feel nervous most of the time, take some prescribed sedatives. You can also consult a coach or a counselor at your college who will listen to your concerns and assist in career and academic matters.
- Get enough sleep. Numerous researchers have shown that lack of sleep results in the increased level of cortisol, the stress hormone. And you don’t want to look like a tired butterfly, right?
- Sports and exercises. How do exercises reduce stress? First of all, physical activity leads to an increase in endorphin and serotonin, hormones of happiness. These chemicals will improve your mood and protect you from stress and mental health disorder. Research by Princeton University found that workouts release neurons which help to induce a state of calm. Walk at least 30 minutes per day. Outdoor exercise to reduce stress like badminton or frisbee is also a nice option if you don’t like hard workouts at the gym.
- Relaxation and meditation. Stress reducing techniques include reading, spiritual practices, meditation or even going to church. Turn on relaxing music, close your eyes and concentrate on your breath or an idyllic place you would like to visit. Light a candle with a calming scent like vetiver or sandalwood.
- Get involved in social life. Don’t hide out from your friends or roommates. It may sound difficult, but this is a nice way to forget about your worries while chatting with different people. Persuade yourself to take part in classroom discussions and parties.
- Talk to yourself and keep a diary. Tell yourself why you feel stress and think of any possible ways to deal with it. Write down everything that worries you.
- Laugh. Laughter relieves tension and stress response. Read a funny story a watch a comedy show on TV.
And remember a fundamental rule. Avoid excessive drinking and drugs! They are destructive strategies which bring short-term effect and eventually only make things worse.
Everyone has anxious moments in his or her life, but we can find out how to reduce stress levels and handle it.