When you’re in college, the world is your oyster. It's full of new possibilities, places you’ve never explored, and ideas to change the way you look at things.
In so many ways, college is great — but it can also be very stressful. You’ve got multiple assignments all due the same week (classic), new relationships to navigate, and, the hardest thing of all — being out on your own, maybe for the first time.
You’re bound to feel stressed from one or more of these experiences while you’re in college. Here are 5 things you can do to help.
1. Talk to Someone
When you feel stressed and anxious, you often feel like you're alone — like you're the only person out there who could possibly be feeling this way.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in the college environment. When you're experiencing intense times of stress, try finding a support group or therapist to help you deal with what you’re feeling and provide you with some coping tools. Your school may even provide counselling free of charge — but it's on you to book the appointment.
There's something to be said for just getting what's inside your head out. Overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety will have less power when you say them out loud — whether that’s to a therapist or just a vent session with your friends.
2. Hit the Gym
Our brains don’t handle stress well. We’re not built to endure stress for long periods of time — we're fight or flight animals. Those are knee-jerk reactions that aren’t meant to last in the long run.
When you've reached your brain’s ability to handle stress, it can start to manifest in your body as fatigue, which can lead to frequent colds and headaches, among other physical ailments.
The best natural remedy for all of these things is exercise. The good news is, as a college student you can probably access a deal on a gym membership, if you’re school doesn’t already provide you with one as part of your ancillary fees.
The next time you need a break from your stress, unplug, hit the treadmill, weight room or yoga mat. Your body and mind will thank you.
3. Take it Slow
College can cause a lot of stress when you're running a mental tally of everything you need to get done. “This paper needs to be written, this exam needs to be studied for, I need to read this chapter and write this response paper”. (Real talk — responses papers are THE WORST).
The thing is, when was the last time you didn’t get something done for school? Probably never. It always gets done. Even if it’s at the very last minute, it will get done. So give yourself some slack and take some deep breaths. Going into your to-do list at full-tilt will only ensure you burn out and get overwhelmed. Tackle each thing on your list in order, one at a time. There is always enough time to get everything done. Always.
4. Get Some Rest
Similar to making sure you move your body when you’re stressed, you also need to make sure to let yourself rest. That could mean taking a 30-minute power nap between tasks to help you recharge, or meditating for five minutes to help clear your head and brainstorm for your next big project.
Your brain can only function properly when you give it time to rest and reset — and that basic need doesn’t stop just because you have five essays to write and four exams to study for.
Whatever it is, schedule in some time where you can rest. Even five minutes can make a difference in your overall stress level.
5. Fuel Your Body
Surviving on a student budget is hard — and finding nutritious food to fuel your study habits is even harder. But that's why it's worth prioritizing simple, quality-ingredient meals, over the cheap calories of fast food.
The food we eat affects our brains and our bodies in so many ways — so when you're in a constant state of stress because of school it's all the more important to make time for eating well. Burning through energy, lack of sleep, plus a poor diet is a recipe for more stress.
If you’re struggling to keep healthy food in your fridge, reach out to your school about their nutrition program — some schools even have student food banks on campus that can be accessed whenever you need them. You can also consider sharing meals with friends — beyond the tasty food, potlucks have socializing built into them. Plus you can share dish duty. Win-win-win!
Final Thought: Be Real With Yourself
School is hard. You're expected to work harder than you have ever worked before. The coursework is grueling and it always seems like you’re behind. But it’s also an amazing time of personal and professional transformation — you’ll make lifelong friends and learn new things about who you are as a person.
The good news is, you do have at least some control over your stress level (even if you fail to convince your professor to make your final a take-home exam). Create some healthy habits that will serve you throughout your college experience — I promise it's worth it.
Britt is the founder of Tiny Ambitions, a blog, podcast, and creative community where she explores simple, minimalist living. Her journey into minimalism and simple living began in 2014 when she donated, sold, and recycled most of her belongings in favor of a less cluttered life. Her blog and Tiny Bites podcast share personal stories like these about her experiences as a minimalist and how others can take the plunge. It's through her podcast where the Flipd team discovered Britt, and she's been one of our leading ambassadors ever since.
Want to become a Flipd ambassador like Britt? Here's how.