By Brittany List
As students are getting back into the swing of things with the new school year starting some of us get put under a lot of stress. With so many different activities going on it’s hard to keep your mind focused and sane.
With a campus that has students from all different backgrounds and in different life stages there is no single method that will work for everybody. I personally am a non-traditional student who lives off campus and I commute to Upper Iowa 4 days a week. I am a full time student with a full time job, I take part in the work study program. On top of all this I own my own home and have a family. This life load adds many stressors to my personal life however my stressors are very different than say a traditional student who just graduated high school who lives on campus, is a full time student, does work study and participates in sports. With so many different stressors a student can experience it’s hard to come up with ways to manage that stress. Here are a few techniques that can be used during many different times of stress.
- Having a plan! When you’re juggling classes, work, sports, and life in general it’s easy to forget the days must do tasks. One helpful tip I swear by is making a daily “to do” list. Every morning before my first class officially starts I take out my spare notebook and write down the day’s agenda while writing out the agenda I make indented tasks associated with those activities. For example if I have time in between classes I write out a list of things I need to get done during that spare time such as “print off power point before next class” “pay my cell phone bill online” “call and set up dentist apt.” I will also leave space underneath my classes to add homework tasks assigned that day.
I know what you’re all thinking… Isn’t that what a day planner is for? Yes it is however with a day planner you are often limited on space where as the notebook has endless pages. Plus writing main tasks in my planner plus a to do list means I’m going over my daily tasks twice and writing them down twice which means I am at a huge advantage when it comes to remembering everything I need to do. Just like studying and note taking the more you review the more you retain.
- Taking time for yourself! This is a tough one with the crazy schedule’s we all have but where most people think taking time for yourself means trying to find time to pamper yourself, or a block of time that seems impossible to find (which is impossible for the majority of us) set up a 5-15 minute window in between classes or before you go to work and just find a place to sit down and collect your thoughts. Write down anything you forgot about when making your morning “to-do” list, cross out tasks you’ve completed, or just sit close your eyes and breathe. Just don’t fall asleep as this will add stress to your busy day.
By taking just a little bit of time out of your day you can regroup your thoughts and find some clarity in the mess of everything going on. I find this helpful in keeping headaches out of my head, and when I don’t take this time I find those thoughts intensifying and becoming a source of worry causing dull achy pain that will eventually turn into an unbearable migraine headache. So it’s good to release those stressors before moving on to your next daily event.
- FUEL YOURSELF! That’s odd, is this chick asking me to guzzle down some gasoline? NO! Our body’s main defense system against stress and illness is having the ability to regenerate itself. Lack of sleep, water, and essential nutrients can lead down the dangerous road of…Getting Sick… and who has time for that? Sickness leads to medical bills, medication costs, missed classes, missed working hours, and of course falling behind on everything you’ve worked so hard for these past few weeks.
So you’re in a hurry this morning and you were up all night studying for a big test, what does your breakfast look like? Most of us have experienced this and most of us turn to a big can of Monster and candy bar. But what can this do to our bodies over a period of 4+ years? Well the outlook is grim, lack of sleep can lead to poor mental health…DEPRESSION…, premature aging, cause everyone wants to look 30 years old on their 22nd birthday! Serious health problems many including heart problems, and well, being a college student this one may come in a #1 a serious impairment of our: judgment, concentration, problem solving, reasoning and attention span. Because none of those are useful while taking notes in class! Well that was just lack of sleep let’s move on to a lack of nutrients. Again not getting all the vitamins and minerals your body requires leads to heart problems so adding this to lost sleep increases that risk. There is also lost concentration and added mood disorders, so you’re doubling the “dumbing down” effects causing you even more issues in retaining what you’re studying and you’re crabby on top of that. And for all the athletes out their grabbing junk food on the go you’re seriously missing out since eating a nutritious and well balanced diet actually boosts not only your immune system but improves your sports performance! And last but not least that energy drink…well health issues include many heart related problems…may as well call that the triple whammy on your ticker when you’re lacking on that fuel your body needs. CALORIES GALORE nothing like the freshman 15 or maybe 30 and of course everyone likes to be nervous and jittery while sitting in class listening to a lecture. Right? Water is essential to a healthy body, why? Water makes up a vast majority of our body it’s found in our blood, bones, brain, muscle and of course our organs (skin is an organ). So when we skip out on water for a one of those energy boosters, soda, even a fancy latte were really not solving the problem on our lack of sleep. I think it’s safe to say that rather than studying until 2am going to bed at 10pm and getting up earlier having a balances breakfast and a big glass of water with a shorter cram session will be much more effective than the first option.
Hopefully these tips to stress management will help in maintaining your sanity and health throughout the semester and however many semester’s you have left until graduation.
Credits: Web MD, Division of Student Affairs Case Western Reserve University.