You are about to enter a new phase in your life: college. This is going to be a lot different from anything you have ever known, and if you aren’t careful, you could end up putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary stress. College can be stressful for anyone, but it is even more stressful for the freshman who is trying to get used to college life, get good grades, make new friends, etc. Here a few strategies that will help you deal with and reduce stress in your first year of college—and beyond.
- Be Prepared – Being unprepared really puts a lot of unnecessary stress on a person. So, before going to bed each night, prepare a plan for the following day. Sure, there may be unexpected events, but the more prepared you are for what you know lies ahead, the less stressed you will be.
- Don’t Forget To Eat – It is important to make sure that you are eating healthy. Always have healthy snacks available, so even if you can’t sit down for a meal, you can still get the nutrition you need to stay healthy. Also, don’t deprive yourself by dieting, as this can add even more stress.
- Set Aside Relaxation Time – “No matter what relaxation techniques you are using, they aren’t going to help unless they become habitual, and creating a new habit can be the hardest part”, says an expert from Healthy But Smart. Make sure that you set aside at least 20 minutes each day for relaxation time. The more time you can spend relaxing, the better off—and more productive—you are going to be.
- Avoid the ATM – Your finances can play a huge role in your stress levels. Create a budget, and try to only use the ATM once weekly, to withdraw what you will need for the week. This will help you keep better track of your finances and stay on budget.
- Go Swimming – One of the most relaxing things in the world is to just lie back and float in the water. If your campus has a swimming pool, or if there is a public pool in the area, take advantage of it. During nice weather, hit the beach or a local swimming hole and let stress float away.
- Take Time To Just Be – Sometimes, you just need to get out and focus on your senses and nothing else. Go for a walk by yourself, and instead of thinking about your stress, think about your surroundings. Forget about stress, even if just for a few minutes.
- Keep a Journal – It is a good idea to start keeping a journal of the things that are bothering you. Better yet, find someone you can talk to—be it a friend, family member, professor, counselor, etc.—about whatever is stressing you out.
- Try Relaxation Techniques – There are all kinds of relaxation techniques you can use to help you deal with and reduce stress. These include yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, deep breathing, tai chi, music therapy, art therapy, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, massage and more.
- Wash Your Hands – You are under pressure as a student, which makes you more susceptible to viruses. Make sure that you use proper hand-washing techniques, and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times.
- Get Lots of Exercise – One of the best ways to destress is to exercise. You can lose yourself in your workout and temporarily forget about whatever is stressing you out. After exercising, you will enjoy a much clearer mind, and you will be better equipped to deal with your stress more effectively.
Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and elearning specialist.