Whether you’re new to college or already a junior or senior in the thick of your studies, you may be on the hunt for some stress management tips. Some people think college stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to be stressed out to get your work done, just like you don’t need to be stressed to be successful in life. In fact, remaining calm and finding balance are some of the best ways to ensure you create a sustainable workflow.
While stress management and self-care are all individual acts and processes, there are a few healthy stress management strategies you can try out to see if they stick. Whether you favor organization techniques, calming exercises, or processing your thoughts, you can find stress relief. If you’re on the journey of how to de-stress as a college student, here are a few strategies that may click for you.
1. Do deep breathing exercises
Sometimes it really is as simple as breathing to ease your stress. It might seem like a cliché, but you could be surprised at how good you feel after taking a smooth, deep breath in and out. This is perfect for reminding you to slow down and giving your mind a moment to rest. If you want to take it a bit further, you can even do some breathing exercises, like square breathing or counting your breaths. Trying this before bed is a great way to get started and relax you for a good night’s sleep.
2. Try out yoga
If you’re loving the deep breathing, yoga might just be a great practice to add to your repertoire. There are so many ways to practice yoga—whether you’re looking to sweat it out or just sit in a restorative child’s pose for 10 minutes straight. Listening to your body and giving it what it needs can sometimes be the well-needed break you’re craving, leading you to an overall calmer and more relaxed state.
3. Keep a consistent schedule
Our brains don’t always want to do the work of forming and keeping track of ever-changing daily events. Even though you may not be able to control things like class times and due dates, keeping a consistent schedule throughout your days when you can is a great way to give your brain a bit less to stress over. Plus, consistent schedules are great for your sleep hygiene as well as your overall organization. Who needs to pull all-nighters and rush to club meetings when your body works like clockwork?
4. Get enough sleep
Speaking of sleep hygiene, you probably saw this one coming. While staying up late to study—or hang out with friends—might seem like the best decision in the moment, the toll it takes on your body and mind usually isn’t worth it. When you’re well rested, you have more energy and tend to feel better throughout the day. If you’re looking to get more sleep, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, or even using calming techniques like meditating before bed.
5. Try meditation
Meditation is a great tool for reducing stress and practicing mindful self-compassion, even in your busy college life. Meditation comes in many different forms, whether you meditate before bed to calm down or simply take five minutes at the start of your day to center yourself. Meditation doesn’t demand that you clear your mind completely or sit for hours—it’s simply a way to take some time for yourself.
6. Avoid substance use
Even though college can be stressful, it’s important to avoid any kind of unhealthy stress relief such as drinking or drug use. Did you know that of college students ages 18–22, more than 30% participate in binge drinking to relieve pressure and blow off steam? Don’t become a statistic, and don’t jeopardize your future! Make a point to avoid substance use, especially when you’re most stressed. Focusing on healthy stress management methods not only helps you through college but builds beneficial habits you can carry into your career and other areas of life.
7. Make lists
Another way students can manage stress in their daily routines is to make to-do lists. Just like a steady schedule, making lists is a great way to give your brain a bit less to do. By turning to your lists, your mind can find a sense of steadiness and completion in your tasks for the day, and you’ll be much less likely to forget things.
8. Start journaling
Another great stress reliever is journaling, no matter how you do it. Journaling can be a great way to process your feelings, explore your desires, and understand yourself on a deeper level. You can go on for pages and pages if you want to, or you can also write just a sentence or a paragraph. Either way, it can offer a bit of release.
Being stressed in college isn’t fun, but luckily there are many ways to reduce and manage your stress. You can try one of these tips or mix and match them to find out what works best for you. No matter what you do to relieve stress, it’s important to consistently care for yourself throughout your college experience. Balance is the best way to get things done.
For more stress management and general college life advice, check out our Student Life section.