How to Manage Stress in College: 6 Tips for Success

By DeVry University

As a student, you’re no stranger to managing multiple tasks at one time. Whether you're prepping for exams, completing a group project or juggling personal commitments, it's important to find balance as you work through your to-do list. Prioritizing your own health is often just as important to your productivity as scheduling your time can be.

If you are looking for tips on how to manage stress in college, read the following guide for ways to stay healthy while working, learning and balancing personal responsibilities:

1. Get Plenty of Sleep.

Scientists have found a direct link between sleep deprivation (i.e., 5 or fewer hours of nightly sleep) and high-stress awareness. In other words, the more sleep you get the less stressed you're likely to be. Although it may seem counterintuitive to some, sleeping more can help increase your productivity because you’re more likely to make better use of the time that you have.

Below, we have listed a few of our favorite tips to improve sleep quality and duration that students can use:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Sleeping in can make it harder to start your day motivated.
  • Enjoy more direct sunlight in the mornings to start your day on a positive note.
  • Fight grogginess with exercise instead of caffeine – this way, you can get those coveted endorphins and avoid an energy crash.
  • Skip that late afternoon nap – it can make it more difficult to fall asleep when bedtime rolls around.
  • Put your phone and other artificial light sources away late at night so that they don’t disrupt your sleep.

2. Meditate Regularly.

A 2019 study on American college students found that students who regularly meditated or practiced vinyasa flow yoga scored significantly lower for levels of stress and anxiety than non-meditating students.

If you're stressed while in college, taking 10 to 20 minutes out of your day to sit, take deep breaths and clear your mind can go a long way toward putting yourself at ease.

3. Limit Your Screen Time.

These days, we're using digital technologies more and more in our personal, academic and professional lives. It's no surprise, then, that we can get easily carried away with it and spend more of our time staring at electronic screens than not.

To give your mind a break from screens, consider not using your phone during the first hour or two of your day and give your phone a "bedtime" in the evening after which you no longer use it.

4. Keep a Daily Journal.

Writing down your thoughts and emotions—both positive and negative—in a daily journal can help you stay on top of your stress levels and clear the noise and clutter from your head. Keeping a journal at your bedside can remind you to write in it before falling asleep or upon waking up every day, which can aid in building a journaling habit.

In your journal, you can also write your daily and weekly goals. By listing your goals, you can keep track of your most important tasks and can feel a sense of accomplishment when you cross them out at the end of your day.

5. Eat Foods That Nourish Your Body and Mind.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been found to improve stress levels in those who suffer from chronic high-stress. Not only does eating healthy, non-processed foods improve how our bodies feel and function, but it also promotes mental clarity, longevity and better performance in demanding cognitive tasks.

6. Talk It Out.

Keeping an open line of communication with friends and family members is great for mental health. Often, the act of externalizing your feelings can help you feel more positive and put you into problem-solving mode. It helps to see your concerns from the perspective of an outside party, as you are able view your situation in an entirely new light.

Take Small Steps Toward a Healthier Student Life.

Practicing small, positive habits such as journaling, healthy eating and reducing your screen time are great ways to stay healthy that can also help you learn how to manage stress in college. And remember, every little bit helps. Take an incremental approach by adding a few quick wins to your daily routine – you'll be surprised at how much of an impact it can make.

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