Students are one of the most common victims of stress. Factors such as financial expenses, overcommitment, family expectations, deadlines and workload all induce stress in students. While a mild amount of stress is very useful and acts as a motivation for students, too much stress can interfere with their daily lives.
When built over time, stress can give rise to a host of serious problems such as depression and anxiety. Managing stress in its early stages can help maximize the college/university experience and opportunities for students.
There are three kinds of common stress triggers students experience:
Social stress puts serious peer pressure on students. Dealing with new relationships, balancing academic life with social life, living with or without family members, adjusting to the new environment, all trigger stress in students.
Strict schedules, deadlines, low grades, challenging classes, exams, responsibilities, and poor time management all lead to a buildup of academic stress.
- Daily life.
This stress is associated with issues that are not related to academic or social life. These can include daily commute, part-time job, financial burdens, and so on.
Practical stress management can help students deal with their worries and become more productive, competent and efficient. Here are a few tips for managing stress:
- Manage time.
Proper time management is one of the most effective stress-relieving techniques (Macan et al., 1990). Whether it’s relaxation, work or study, time must be spent wisely. Students must be able to design and stick to a timetable. Choose a relaxing break between work and study, even if it’s just taking out time to breathe.
- Exercise and get some air.
A healthy lifestyle is essential for students, especially at university level. Instead of partying at night and being cooped up at home studying throughout the day, take out time to get some air and exercise. Stress is generally lower in people who maintain a healthy routine.
- Stay positive.
If you keep focusing on the negative aspects of a situation, you will be burdened by mental stress (Thompson & Gaudreau, 2008). Instead, try to look at the glass half full, and stay optimistic through tough times. For example, instead of feeling upset over a bad grade, try to maintain a positive attitude and look at ways to improve the next time.
- Organize your academic life.
Organization is very important in academic life for dealing with stress (Sinha, 2014). By keeping academic notes organized, turning in assignments on time, and keeping track of all deadlines, stress can be reduced to a great extent.
- Stop procrastinating.
The best way to stop procrastinating is to get the most difficult tasks out of the way first. Most people procrastinate because they dread the task they’re putting off. Get rid of the dreaded deed, and you’re good to go.
- Take one step at a time.
Don’t put too many eggs in one basket. Instead of feeling overwhelmed about all the deadlines, it’s best to make a list and sort them out one by one. This helps you to be more efficient and productive with your time.
- Spend time with friends.
A cup of coffee with family or friends is all you need to bring your stress levels back to normal. Stress can also get worse if a person feels lonely. By letting out all your thoughts to someone you trust, you immediately feel a lot better.
- Water therapy.
Water therapies are effective for reducing stress and relaxing the body (Lewis & Webster, 2014). By drinking lots of water and treating yourself to hot baths, you can help your body relax. By adding aromatic oils in your bath, you can double your relaxation effect and improve your academic performance.
- Do something you love.
If you feel extremely stressed out, take a break and do something you love. Whether it is painting or listening to music, doing something you enjoy can cheer up your mood and distract you from a stressor.
A general rule of thumb is to moderate your workload and avoid taking on too much. Following the tips above can ensure you find and maintain a good balance in your academic life. If normal management tips do not help, seek advice from your university’s student support services or other professionals.
Lewis, J. & Webster, A. (2014). Sort Your Brain Out: Boost Your Performance, Manage Stress and Achieve More. Capstone.
Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L. & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College Students’ Time Management: Correlations With Academic Performance and Stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(4), pp. 760-768.
Sinha, A. (2014). Stress vs Academic Performance. SCMS Journal of Indian Management, 11(4), p. 46.
Thompson, A. & Gaudreau, P. (2008). From Optimism and Pessimism to Coping: The Mediating Role of Academic Motivation. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(3), pp. 269-288.
Stressed student photo available from Shutterstock