Tips from a Towson Psychiatrist on Managing College Stress
It’s no secret that college is a stressful time in every student’s life; dealing with classes, friendships, being away from home, finances, and other real-world issues can be a lot to deal with when you’re on the brink of adulthood. Because of this, it’s no wonder than more than 75% of college students report that they’re stressed and an additional number of students report having suicidal thoughts related to their stress. Psych Associates of Maryland - a leading Towson Psychiatrist - knows how stressful your college years can be and don’t want you to go at it alone. That’s why we’re here to share six tips for managing the stresses of college life that can help you stay calm, stay focused, and thrive through academic challenges.
While it may sound like a cliche, exercising regularly can help relieve stress from college. Exercising and moving around releases endorphins that help increase happiness and decrease the effects of stress on your body. Additionally, taking the time to exercise gives your 30-60 minutes where you can remove your focus from schoolwork and additional stressors -- a time where you get to focus on nothing other than bettering yourself! While most people think of exercise strictly as hitting the gym in the rec center, you can exercise by taking a walk in the local park, playing with a friend’s dog, attending a yoga class, or dancing in your own living room.
From multiple tests and paper being due, club meetings, residence hall events, group projects, and pages upon pages of reading, it can be difficult to remain calm when it feels like everything is coming at you at once. Invest in a good planner - or better yet, use your phone or computer as a planner to save paper - and take the time to schedule out your week every Sunday evening. Make yourself aware of big deadlines and major responsibilities, planning out study time, meals, and relaxation. Being able to see that you DO have the time to complete your tasks can put your mind at ease and can help you avoid procrastination (which drives even more stress).
Another major perk of planning ahead allows you to be fully aware of where conflicts may exist, allowing you to plan ahead and develop solutions to your conflicts before they arise. For instance, you may realize you have two final exams scheduled for the same time. The day before your final is not a good time to realize this, so it’s best to talk to your professor or department head in advance to keep your stress levels down during finals.
While it may sometimes seem impossible, it’s extremely important to make time for yourself in college. Taking ‘me time’ doesn’t mean you need to set aside a large chunk of time every day and ignore your other responsibility. Taking time for yourself can involve taking half an hour to relax on your couch, eat your favorite meal, play a quick round of frisbee with your friends, or take a nap between classes. During midterms and finals it can be hard to plan out ‘me time,’ so plan out a fun activity to do after your last exam. This gives you something to look forward to and reminds you that a rewarding end is in sight through your stress -- a light at the end of the tunnel, in essence.
Sleep is an integral part of your overall wellness and can help maintain the bodily processes that regulate stress and allow for clear thinking. When cramming for an exam or attending a formal for your student organization, it’s easy to lose track of your sleep schedule. However, carefully planning out your week will allow you to develop a regulated sleep schedule that you can depend on for recharging and refueling while you’re stressed. Additionally, never underestimate the power of a good nap. Studies show that naps as short at 6 minutes can work wonders in giving you the small boosts in energy you need to finish your studying or take on the remainder of your day.
Part of the reason people are stressed out is that they feel like they don’t have the energy required to take on the day. Tackling the stresses of college takes a lot of energy, as does studying and focusing in class, which is why it’s important to not only eat ‘well,’ but eat to properly fuel your body. Some students fear the ‘freshman 15’ so much that they deprive themselves of the necessary nutrients for focus by eating too little. If you’re worried about eating the right nutrients while in college, talk to your doctor about fueling your body properly so that you can feel your best and reduce stress. With that being said, don’t become so focused on eating well that you avoid the occasional late-night pizza run with friends -- these are the types of fun rewards that can help keep you feeling good.
Above all else, it’s important to know your limits. Sometimes stress is too big to handle on your own, and that’s okay. Knowing when it’s time to talk to a friend or a professional about your stress is a valuable skill. Reaching out to a Towson psychiatrist is a good idea because a practitioner can help you develop stress management techniques, connect you with support groups, provide you with medication, and help you fight back against the tiny voice in your head that adds to your stress.
Think it’s time you get help for your stress management? Get in touch with Psych Associates of Maryland today so we can help you get your life back on track.
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