Top 10 Stress Management Techniques for Students
Stress is “a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way.” Most students experience significant amounts of stress, and this stress can take a significant toll on health, happiness, and grades.
That means teens are experiencing significant levels of chronic stress, and that they feel their levels of stress generally exceed their ability to cope effectively.
Stress occurs naturally in college students, who are overwhelmed balancing multiple classes with work schedules and extra activities.
Stress can affect health-related behaviours like sleep patterns, diet, and exercise as well, taking a larger toll. Many students feel a sense of needing to relieve stress, but with all of the activities and responsibilities that fill a student’s schedule, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to try new stress relievers to help dissipate that stress.
These options are relatively easy, quick, and relevant to a student’s life:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Students, with their packed schedules, are notorious for missing sleep. Unfortunately, operating in a sleep-deprived state puts you at a distinct disadvantage. You’re less productive, you may find it more difficult to learn, and you may even be a hazard behind the wheel.
Don’t neglect your sleep schedule. Aim to get at least 8 hours a night and take power naps when you need them.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
You may not realize it, but your diet can either boost your brainpower or sap you of mental energy. A healthy diet can function as both a stress management technique and a study aid. Improving your diet can keep you from experiencing diet-related mood swings, light-headedness, and more.
3. Engage in a Physical Activity
Adding a daily physical activity into your schedule can help you to beat stress before it comes on. However, there are ways to get rid of stress as you are studying, too.
One of the greatest ways to relieve stress is through physical activity. Whether this is through a vigorous workout or by participating in sports, you will find that getting your body moving helps you to literally sweat off tension.
Relieve some stress with either a few minutes or hours of physical activity by doing yoga in the morning, walking or biking to campus, or reviewing for tests with a friend while walking on a treadmill at the gym, to get your blood pumping, and then go back to hitting the books.
4. Take Calming Breaths
When your body is experiencing a stress response, you’re often not thinking as clearly as you could be. A quick way to calm down is to practice breathing exercises. These can be done virtually anywhere to relieve stress in minutes, and are especially effective for reducing anxiety before or even during tests, as well as during other times when stress feels overwhelming.
5. Do something you Enjoy
Hobbies can help you relax. Put aside the books and take a few minutes or up to an hour to put your stress towards an activity you enjoy.
Get physical, watch half an hour of your favorite television show or YouTube channel or just listen to a few of your favorite songs; breaking up your study sessions with activities or hobbies you enjoy will help relieve some test tension and studying monotony.
Writing when you are stressed out can help you figure out the things that are bothering you. While it may seem obvious that the act of studying itself is stressful, take a few minutes to write down a list of what aspects of your situation are causing you the most grief. Are you trying to study a lot of material in a small amount of time? Is there certain material that you don’t understand? Did you procrastinate? Once you figure out why you are stressed you can better address how to alleviate your woes.
You could also take some time away from studying and do some creative writing. Jot down a quick poem or short story to get your creative juices flowing; even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer” this will at least give you a much-needed break from studying.
7. Get your study snacks right
Studies have proven without a doubt that certain foods can help relieve stress and anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed while staring at your revision notes, consuming food and drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine will only heighten your stress. Instead, make sure you are putting healthy food into your body, which will help you stay calm and hopefully boost your brainpower, too.
Some of the best (and tastiest) mood-boosting snacks include blueberries, dark chocolate and pistachio nuts. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain high levels of magnesium, which is known to regulate emotions. Of course eating too much of anything will make you feel lethargic and off-form – so eat in moderation. Those who drink black and green tea have also been shown to produce lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after performing a stressful task, so put the kettle on when it all gets too much!
8. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Another great stress reliever that can be used during tests, before bed, or at other times when stress has you physically wound up is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). This technique involves tensing and relaxing all muscles until the body is completely relaxed.
With practice, you can learn to release stress from your body in seconds. This can be particularly helpful for students because it can be adapted to help relaxation efforts before sleep for deeper sleep, something students can always use, or even to relax and reverse test-induced panic before or during a test.
9. Listen to Music
A convenient stress reliever that has also shown many cognitive benefits, music can help you to relieve stress and either calm yourself down or stimulate your mind as your situation warrants. Students can harness the benefits of music by playing classical music while studying, playing upbeat music to “wake up” mentally, or relaxing with the help of their favourite slow melodies.
10. Use Positive Thinking and Affirmations
Did you know that optimists actually experience better circumstances, in part, because their way of thinking helps to create better circumstances in their lives? It’s true! The habit of optimism and positive thinking can bring better health, better relationships, and, yes, better grades.
Learn how to train your brain for more positive self-talk and a brighter future with affirmations and other tools for optimism. You can also learn the limitations to affirmations and the caveats of positive thinking so you aren’t working against yourself.