6 tips for reducing stress in college students
No one is immune to stress. Some are able to manage it better than others, however. The secret lies in one’s ability to cope and actually putting those coping tools to use. New research says college students are lousy at managing their stress, but they could easily get better by taking certain actions.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Happiness & Well-Being, found that although there are simple ways for college students to relieve stress and get back to their happy place, they don’t take advantage of them as much they could.
Lead researcher of the study, Keith King, a University of Cincinnati professor, cited both immediate and long-term simple actions students can take to relieve stress.
King recommended that students take the following steps for immediate action:
- Stop, pause and breathe. When you’re stressed, calm everything down by pausing and taking deep breaths. Try counting backward from 10.
- See the bigger picture. Ask yourself, “Is what you’re experiencing really that big of a deal or not?”
- Contact a friend. Reach out to a friend to talk about what’s bothering you so you don’t hold on to these feelings.
Things students can do over a longer period of time to ward off stress include:
- Diet and exercise. Those who eat healthy and exercise regularly are more likely to have lower stress levels. Exercise allows you to burn off negative energy while healthy eating helps you avoid feeling weighed down.
- Daily “me time.” Make time for yourself every day to do something that you enjoy.
- Remember to H.A.L.T. “Make sure you’re not hungry, you’re not angry, you’re not lonely and you’re not tired,” said King in a statement. “If you can take care of those four things, you’re significantly more likely to be unstressed.”
The nearly 500 students who participated in the research through a voluntary survey had their overall happiness and stress levels assessed. Researchers found that although many reported feeling highly stressed (61 percent), more students failed to do much about it (72 percent reported low use of stress management techniques.).
Dr. Prentiss Taylor, an internist and preventive medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago adds that stress management means getting a certain mix right. “Many college students I’ve seen as a primary care physician are struggling to find balance in their life,” says Dr. Taylor.
“Some overindulge in campus food or snack foods if living off-campus, leading to excessive weight that later turns into obesity. I endorse the findings and recommendations in the research. So often balance is finding the right mix of food, exercise, sleep, and relationships,” he adds.
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