College can be a stressful time, but by practicing these useful stress relief techniques, you can train your body and mind to better manage your tasks to curate a balanced lifestyle.
Stress is a normal biological process meant to protect your body. But in an increasingly overwhelming, overscheduled and digitally-reliant world, stress has become somewhat of an epidemic that can cause real health issues. For college students especially, stress is a common feeling because there is so much to balance across school, work, pre-existing responsibilities and the constant consideration of the future. In order to better manage feelings of anxiety, here are some stress relief techniques that can be practiced by everyone, not just students in college.
Stress in College
During your college career, you’ll have to balance tests, schoolwork, reading, lab work, writing papers and more. Your schedule can at times feel very packed, and it’s natural to have overwhelming feelings as you question how you can possibly get it all done.
For starters, it’s useful to establish a routine of time management that will help you minimize your stressful feelings, but along with such a practice, you can try the following techniques to relieve stress.
General Ways to Relieve Stress
Overall, stress relief techniques can be practiced by anyone. Try some of these:
1. Breathing Exercises:
To help maintain a clear state of mind, try to focus on your breath. It is one thing that you do have control over any time you choose to. There are various types of breathing exercises geared towards different outcomes such as: slowing down the heartbeat, expelling heat, or even creating energy within your body.
2. Mindfulness & Meditation:
Going hand in hand with breathing exercises is the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness serves as the art of being present in the moment and being able to focus your mind on the situation that you are currently experiencing. A good way to get used to this state of mind is to meditate regularly. Although meditation requires time to sit still and focus on your breath and/or use a guided meditation to move you through the practice, it will feel like you’ve gotten your time back because you feel refreshed and more able to focus over time. It’s a good idea to start in small increments like 5-10 minutes a day before working yourself up to longer periods of meditation. In this way, you can treat meditation like exercise for your mind!
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” By allowing yourself to imagine accomplishing your goals, you can actually help them come to fruition. Notably used by athletes, visualization can help reduce stress by aligning your actions with your positive thoughts so that when you actually tackle the task at hand, you have already envisioned how it will turn out and your body and mind can react accordingly. For example, if you have a big exam coming up, you can visualize yourself calmly taking the test and knowing the answers. You can even visualize receiving your good grade back and feel those emotions. This practice will help you stay focused!
There are many forms of yoga, from Vinyasa flow to Power yoga and Ashtanga. Each practice is slightly different from one another, but all forms of yoga use breath to movement and can serve as a form of meditation and exercise at the same time. Many yogis will express that the real magic of yoga happens between the poses. While it may look like stretching and an easy way to exercise, it actually takes a lot of coordination, balance and patience. The good news is that you can do yoga at your own pace and by working through the challenging poses, you are training your mind to remain calm under stressful situations. This will no doubt reap benefits during your college experience.
The amount of sleep you get plays a large role in your emotional, physical and cognitive functioning. When you lack sleep, you are bound to be more irritable. When you get enough sleep, you are naturally relieving stress. You can better regulate your mood and make smarter decisions when you have a healthy night’s rest.
6. Ask for Help:
No matter who you turn to for assistance in life, you are never alone. From friends, family, counselors, hotlines, social media groups, coaches and more, if you feel like you’re handling too much and can’t actually manage alone, don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance.
Did you know that exercising literally makes you happier by releasing endorphins (your brain’s feel-good hormone) into your system? Regardless of the form of exercise you choose to take part in, you will help your mind and body feel better through the hormonal effects as well as the psychological effects of increased confidence.
8. Make Art:
Perhaps you enjoy relieving stress through creation. You don’t have to be professionally talented to write your thoughts down, draw a picture or create a song. Whatever avenue you choose, you can use art to better understand what is causing your stress or just as an activity to take your mind off of everything as you get into a flow state and making something new!
9. Create a Schedule:
It’s easy to forget things, and sometimes, just the act of having to remember everything can cause your mind to become stressed and tired. Rather than trying to remember everything, you can create a schedule and use reminders to make sure you check everything off your to do list. Whether you choose to use Google Calendar or another application, a schedule will help you to better manage your time between studying, socializing and working.
If you’re able to treat yourself to a massage, try a Swedish massage! Swedish massages are one of the most relaxing types of massage therapies and are geared towards stress relief by warming up muscle tissues to release toxins and tension.
Stress Relief Techniques for College
Along with the tips above, students in college can take advantage of more specific stress relief techniques.
1. Use Your Human Resources:
Friends and family are there to support you throughout your college career. If you feel like you need a helping hand, be sure to ask them to help you through challenging times.
2. Reach out to Your Counselor:
Colleges have trained professionals ready to help you through whatever may be causing you stress. Whether you attend an online institution or study on a traditional college campus, you can attend a session or reach out for help. For example, at University of the People, each student has their own academic advisor for whom you can turn to help answer questions surrounding your needs, from financial aid to class scheduling. Additionally, many colleges offer free mental health services for their students.
3. Leverage School Activities:
College is a great place to try new things. From sporting events and concerts to organizations and clubs, you can get involved with like-minded people and help to alleviate stress by taking part in uplifting social experiences.
What Happens When You Relieve Stress?
Holding onto stress can literally cause diseases from obesity to heart problems. When you are able to healthily release stress, your body physically benefits by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Stabilizing blood pressure
- Relaxing muscles
- Increasing oxygen to the brain
All of these physical effects help you to better focus and set you up for success while you earn your degree.
Take It Slowly
These stress relief techniques are not a one-size-fit-all approach. Take from these ideas those that resonate most with your schedule and personality. Stress is an all too common feeling for everyone in the world, and it can feel heightened during college with deadlines and tests.
Once you get into the rhythm and practice of using the techniques that work best for you, your body and mind benefits as you relieve stress levels to be able to better perform throughout college and life.