Managing your stress

Kayla Van Boven
Assistant Director of Fitness & Recreational Services

With the semester well under way, students may begin to experience feelings of stress. High levels of stress trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, which, in turn, results in elevated blood pressure and heart rate. As stated by Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can result in a compromised immune system, anxiety, feelings of depression, weight gain, digestive problems, sleep problems and difficulty with concentration and focus. As a college student, stress management is an ongoing issue. However, the following techniques can help you keep your stress levels in check and prevent it from taking a toll on your health and academic performance.

Time Management

Combine all the due dates for homework, projects, as well as exams into a single planner to avoid having to refer to multiple syllabi on a regular basis. In this same planner, include any other doctor appointments or extracurricular activities that one plans on attending. Having everything planned out in advance can help with further scheduling, avoiding procrastination, prevent one from missing due dates for assignments and stay on top of important meetings and events.

Exercise

All forms of exercise can help with stress management. As stated by Mayo Clinic, any type of cardio activity such as jogging, swimming or playing racquetball triggers the release of endorphins, those “feel-good neurotransmitters.” Exercise overall has been found to increase mood and improve one’s quality of sleep, so when a student starts to feel overwhelmed by stress, taking a quick 15 minute jog or brisk walk to help distract one from worries and help ease those feelings of stress can help regain focus.

Sleep

Make sleep a priority. The average person needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Although pulling “all nighters” to study for a test might seem like a good idea, the lack of sleep will actually hinder one’s ability to retain what you have learned and recall information. Make it a point to give yourself at least an hour every night to unwind before going to sleep. Try to avoid using electronic devices during this time, as the artificial light can interfere with people’s brains natural production of melatonin. Try reading a book or participating in a calming activity such as coloring or dot-to-dot.

Take Time for Yourself

In our hectic schedules, talking time for leisure may seem impossible. Try to plan “dates” with friends to go out for coffee, shopping or simply visiting with one another. If interested in participating in the extracurricular events on campus, plan ahead and set aside time to participate in at least one activity a week. Meditation is another practice many people use for stress management as well as yoga and journal writing. These can be calming activities to participate in during the evening to clear one’s mind before going to bed and may help you achieve more restful sleep.

Stress can be overwhelming and even debilitating at times. Ensuring students are prioritizing their health both physically and mentally is the key to preventing stress from getter the better of them.