College is a time for self-exploration, adventure and learning. It’s a chance to make your own life decisions while learning from your mistakes. All of these experiences and opportunities, while exciting, can also be extremely stressful. There’s no magical formula for staying completely Zen all of the time, but here are some tricks that can help you manage stress in a healthy way.
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine don’t help
If you’re stressing over a big exam— or maybe you feel a bit of stress because you don’t know what you are going to do with your life after graduation— alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are some of the worst substances you can put in your body. This is because, even in moderate amounts, they act as stimulants, which in turn raise your cortisol levels.
Move, move, move!
Stress elevates two hormones in your body: cortisol and adrenaline. This means that it gives you an extra kick of energy. The best way to release the excess chemicals is to start moving. Whether you enjoy going for a walk or run, taking a yoga or Pilates class or lifting weights, if you are moving you are helping yourself.
When a person is sleep deprived, they usually don’t think or rationalize things correctly. By getting yourself on a consistent sleep schedule, you’re more likely to think more clearly.
Write about it
Journaling is one of the best and healthiest ways to put your feelings, thoughts and concerns into words, then analyze them. Journaling allows you to put everything you’re thinking on paper, then go over it. By doing this, it can help you notice that what you’re stressing over is not as big of a deal as you originally perceived, or it will help you effectively write out a game plan on how to fix it.
Be okay with saying ‘no’
When you already have a lot on your plate and something else comes up, it’s important to prioritize situations and events. It’s okay to tell someone that you can’t do something now, or say no to an invitation to take on another task. This will allow you to focus on what is truly important.
Write out a tentative schedule, and stick to it
Often, the reason a person is stressed is because they feel as though everything is happening at once, and they don’t have enough hours in a day to complete all their tasks. If you start to write out your daily schedule and plan out times to complete various tasks, it will allow you to set a deadline for yourself to complete said tasks, making you more likely to finish them in a reasonable time frame.