College life can cause a lot of anxiety. Students are living away from home, perhaps for the first time, which entails new responsibilities and challenges. Personal relationships and studying for exams also cause stress.
Experiencing some anxiety in college is normal. After all, you are dealing with an entirely new environment. It is important to keep stress from mounting by practicing positive thinking and healthy habits. Here are seven stress-management tips for college students.
1. Monitor Yourself
Be alert to changes in how you feel and act, as they may indicate unhealthy stress levels. You may find yourself becoming excessively angry or irritated about relatively insignificant things.
Muscle tightness, headaches, and an upset stomach are possible signs of anxiety. Other indications include fatigue, and a sense of being bored all the time. If anxiety or panic attacks keep you up at night, you know you are stressed.
2. Think Positively
Perception is everything. How you process information determines how you feel. If you constantly tell yourself that you are going to fail, expect to fail. Relax, take deep breaths, and visualize positive outcomes. Focus on your strengths and abilities, rather than perceived shortcomings. Simplify problems by logically determining what you need to do, step by step.
You may want to take part in some sort of religious or spiritual practice. Perhaps you have religious beliefs that can provide support and guidance. Some students are helped by meditation or yoga. Find some way to achieve the proper frame of mind that will allow you to be confident and emotionally strong.
3. Eat Healthy Food
In college, your mother is not around to buy, cook, and serve nutritious meals. It is suddenly your responsibility to do the shopping and meal planning. To stay healthy emotionally, as well as physically, a balanced diet is crucial.
Make sure that, every day, you eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Try to consume more veggies than meat, choose baked rather than fried food, and opt for chicken instead of pork.
Control your consumption of sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Eating hamburgers, pizzas, and deep-fried snacks is to be expected in college. These foods are common in dorm rooms, at parties, and in bars. Just practice some restraint. Limit how much bad stuff you eat at a time, and don’t do it every day. Have at least one meal a day that contains the basic healthy food groups.
If you try to survive on food that does not provide the nutrition your body needs, it will catch up with you. Fatigue, muscle aches, a lack of energy, anxiety, depression, and illness may result.
Eating right in college can be a challenge because cooking in dorms is usually not allowed. Make sure you have healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit, in your room. When you go to the cafeteria, or eat out at a restaurant, order vegetables and whole grains along with the meat and cheese. Even pizzas can be fairly healthy, when they have whole-grain crusts and veggie toppings.
Do not neglect breakfast. Your body requires some fuel to start another busy day. You may feel that you don’t have time for a full, balanced meal in the morning. But it takes only a few minutes to eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal or granola, with fruit.
Drink water throughout the day, while limiting your intake of caffeine. Too much coffee or soda, and not enough water, can cause physical and emotional symptoms.
4. Get Some Exercise
If you are not accustomed to exercising, you might be surprised by how much better it makes a person feel. A brisk walk or jog, tennis match, bicycle ride, gym workout, or other physical activity is good for mind and body.
You will feel your energy, strength, and perhaps even confidence rise. Exercise maintains a healthy weight and tones muscles, while relieving stress and anxiety. It is one of the best things you can do to tune your body and clear your mind. All it takes is about 20 minutes a day. Include exercise as a part of your schedule.
5. Get Adequate Sleep
A lack of sleep, over time, leads to all sorts of problems. Anxiety can cause, or result from, insomnia. Most people require at least seven hours of sleep a night.
Sleep deprivation may result in fatigue, headaches, and depression. This makes it harder for college studies to study, perform well on tests, and foster relationships. If socializing or other activities prevent you from getting to bed early enough, schedule naps in the afternoons. Don’t consume caffeine or sugar before going to bed.
6. Take Breaks
The hectic pace of college life can leave you feeling anxious or stressed. Give yourself a break every day by finding a quiet place to be relaxed and alone. Go outside to appreciate nature and gain perspective on things that may be troubling you. Get away from academic pressures by socializing with friends and joining student clubs. Take part in sports and other recreational activities.
7. Reach Out to Others
You don’t have to face everything on your own. Other students are going through the same things you are, so share your feelings with your friends and roommates. You might be able to help one another find solutions, or at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not the only one experiencing difficulties.
Take advantage of other resources, like older students and your resident assistant. Have conversations with your parents and other adults whose advice you trust. Do not hesitate to visit with college counselors. That’s why they are there.
College is one of the most important times in your life. You have new experiences, make friends, learn new things, and grow into adulthood. All this can be a bit overwhelming, resulting in anxiety. You can control and manage the stress by following these tips.