College is a busy time for many students and introduces new sources of stress into student’s lives. Freshman are learning for the first time how to manage their time without the help of family or a rigid class schedule; meanwhile upperclassmen are balancing the obligations of college with new, bigger responsibilities like internships and prominent leadership roles. Learning to manage stress in a healthy way is important not only for mental and physical health, but also success in classes and other responsibilities.
So how can students manage their stress in a healthy and productive way?
Visiting with over 40 students in the Max Chambers Library, several ways to manage stress were repeated by those surveyed. Here is a list of ways your peers at UCO manage the stress of school, starting with the most popular answer.
Taking time away from the project or to-do list in order to relax and catch up on sleep. Most students surveyed would take time away from a project or to-do list in order to relax and catch up on sleep. After taking a nap or just resting, they would then come back to what they left unfinished feeling more relaxed.
Whether it is going to the gym, playing a sport, dancing, or going for a walk, most students said they exercise to release stress.
Making a To-Do List
Some students found that listing out upcoming deadlines helped to relieve stress and was a way they could stay on top of their schoolwork.
Taking some time away from their work in order to engage in a hobby or perform their self-care routing helped some students regain their focus and feel less overwhelmed with unfinished tasks. Popular activities were playing video games, watching a movie or show, reading a book, browsing the internet, or playing with a pet(a popular choice when seeking to ease mental tension).
Engaging in an activity within the community, with their friends, or loved ones was something students also said they enjoyed when taking a break. Doing this helped create a support system and allowed them to manage their stress better.
What the experts say
Most students surveyed knew exactly what they do to relieve stress and worked to implement that during their week. What about the students who feel stressed with just the idea of de–stressing?
Professionals recommend several options to de–stress, and most of these can be found online. A few easy options from campumindworks.org by the University of Michigan are listed here.
Managing a balanced diet
We all know that college isn’t known for students maintaining a balanced diet, because ramen may on the menu more than fruits or vegetables. However, what we eat affects how our bodies handle stress and controls out mood, as well as contributes to the brain function related to learning and memory. Limiting the intake of stimulants like caffeine can also help reduce the body’s stress response.
Research agrees with our student’s idea that sleep is important to help a student manage stress and daily activities easier. Sleep deprivation can contribute to stress and cause many mental and physical problems. Having good sleep habits like stopping the use of electronics 30 minutes before bed, going to bed at the same time each night, and only sleep in one hour longer on the weekends to keep your wake time consistent.
Take Your Time
Pacing out the goals and obligations of the day and allowing for time to rest and regroup is vital in helping conquer tasks in a healthy way. During breaks take a walk or listen to music to help clear your mind for the next task.
Procrastination becomes an inevitable part of college life, but it causes unnecessary strain when juggling multiple projects. Try starting a project earlier than usual, working on homework that isn’t due yet, or finishing projects before their due date can help a student feel more prepared for what life throws at them next.
Knowing a healthy mind contributes to a successful student population, UCO has several resources available for students needing help with their stress levels.
The Center for Counseling and Well-Being is located on the fourth floor of the Nigh University Center and is available year-round to help students manage their stress and assist with other mental health initiatives. This department facilitates on-campus events that invite students to learn healthy self-care habits and manage stress.
Also located on the fourth floor of the Nigh University Center is CCWB’s “Relaxation Room,” equipped with massage chairs, soft lighting, and other calming activities students can use 9am-4pm Monday through Friday.
To find more information about CCWB’s services and upcoming events, follow them on social media at @ucohealthpromo.
College is a stressful time for all students and knowing that others are going through similar situations can be comforting. Ask friends or classmates for ways they reduce stress, try out a few different suggestions, and pick the one that feels the most comfortable for your lifestyle.
Keep the conversation going about how to maintain a healthy stress level throughout college! What do you do to reduce stress in your life?