While college is fun and an amazing experience, it also comes with lots of work and assignments, many of which result in some form of stress. Stress is anything but a new concept among students; we often feel overloaded with work, which can leave us feeling helpless and frustrated in many cases. Transitioning from high school to college is different for everyone—some people find it to be the hardest thing they've ever done, while others cruise through their freshman year on a smoother road. Whatever your situation may be, it's always important to consider things you can do to help lower your stress levels. Here are eight activities you can do to relieve stress.
1. Get active.
If you like working out, go to the gym. If you like dancing, sign up for a dance class. If you like taking walks, go for a walk. Physical activity helps to release mood-boosting endorphins, which is beneficial for reducing your stress levels in the short run. If you're looking to make long-term changes, try sticking to a regular schedule for exercise. This can help improve mood stability, sleep and your self-esteem.
2. Try meditating.
Meditating, in its simplest form, is a technique used to calm the mind and help people focus on the present moment. Through guided practice you can learn to get rid of the jumbled thoughts that consume your mind. Meditation is known to contribute to people's emotional well-being and overall health. You can download apps like Headspace for guided meditation practice. The nice thing about this app? You can have sessions that are as short as 30 seconds, which is perfect for students who find themselves constantly on the go. Note that you will need to practice regularly and meditate for longer periods of time if you want to see the positive long-term effects on your health.
3. Hug the people you care about.
According to Psychology Today, physical contact with other humans can help slow the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, while also increasing the flow of chemicals that help you feel good. Hugging someone you care about also helps your body to relax and can help you stay calm during stressful situations.
4. Go outside for a bit.
Research shows that spending time outside can improve our health and mood. Exposure to sunlight can improve your mood by releasing a chemical called serotonin, which can help you feel calm and focused. Another thing to try is going for a walk in the woods, because it increases our level of white blood cells while lowering our pulse, thus reducing our cortisol levels.
5. Listen to some music.
If you can read and do work while listening to music, give it a go. If not, try putting on some music in the background while getting ready for your day, or while cleaning up your room. Music is known to help people relax by lowering our pulse and blood pressures. It can also help to divert your attention from the thoughts that consistently crowd your mind.
6. Get organized.
While this definitely isn't the most fun way to handle stress, organizing certain aspects of your life, whether it be your room or your schedule, can help you feel more in control of yourself and make you feel more certain about your ability to handle certain tasks. Decluttering areas of your life will help lower your cortisol levels, directly lowering your stress levels.
7. Treat yourself on a night in.
When school picks up, students often find themselves with little to no time to spare. If you're having difficulties scheduling time for self-care into your schedule, then incorporate it into tasks that you've already planned to do. For example, sometimes I'll put on a face mask treatment and do school work at the same time to kill two birds with one stone. Of course, I'd love to sit back and read a magazine with a glass of wine while I wait for the mask to dry, but during busy times, it makes more sense to use my time productively.
8. Grab a friend and give each other massages.
Massage therapy is known to be an excellent stress reducer since it allows you to focus on how you feel in the present moment. Since massage therapy is quite expensive and may not be covered under your health insurance plan (especially if it's not for medical considerations), find a friend and spend time giving each other massages. Your bodies will love it, and you'll come out of it with lower cortisol levels.
Coping with stress isn't always the easiest thing to do. Stress is inevitable as a college student and you must always make a point to remember that there will be many good moments to accompany the bad. If you ever feel like your stress levels are too much to handle, reach out to a counselor. Most schools have resources to help students maintain and improve their mental well-being, so be sure to take advantage of it.
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