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Tackling Student Stress

By: Brandi McKee, Director of Student Life and Residential Services

Brandi McKee

Whether or not they live at school, each college student has created a life on their campus in addition to the life they balance off campus. Students have their own families, full time jobs, clubs, internships, significant others, friends, hobbies, and the list goes on. Life doesn’t stop during college. There are bills and major life events to tackle.

Taking care of your health in college is more than seeing your doctor when you get a fever. Here are 4 small ways you can focus a bit more on your health and find some balance to a crazy college life:

When in doubt, schedule it out! 

Since early on in our education lives we have been told to keep a schedule, to use an agenda, to write our assignments on a calendar, and that we have more time than we do believe to get everything done. All of this is true, but there is no one size fits all in terms of how to do it.  Start small.  Take a few days and just simply and honestly track how you spend your time. Write everything down when you actually did it.  This will show you just how you spend your time and where you may find more throughout the day. Doing this will show you where you utilize time well and show you where you waste time well.  After tracking, figure out the style of schedule that is best for you.  Would you remember to look at a digital planner? Do you need pen and paper to write things down and imbed them in your memory that way? Do you need both to balance how your mind works? Try a few different things, but dedicate the time to updating it, following up with it, and make it a part of your daily routine. Once you make it a part of your daily life you will find you spend your time more wisely, and even find time in your schedule for fun!

Use your environment to your advantage.

Whether you commute or live on campus you need to carve out spaces for studying both on campus and at home.  Maybe you need the stark quiet of the library for your best studying even if you live on campus, or maybe even an empty classroom. For days when campus is closed you need to find a private space in your room for studying and that space cannot be your bed! You need a desk or workspace where you can train your brain to know this is where it should focus, and then your brain and body will always be able to focus on sleep in bed.  If you have no other option than to use your bed for studying then you should set up the bed to look like a couch and not like a bed to sleep. Trick your mind a little and you will be able to get a good night’s sleep and study hard.  Just like a schedule, everyone studies a little differently, but no one is at their best in a room full of distractions. Talk to your roommates or your family about the space you have created so they can respect what you need to be successful.  Find what works for you; utilize music, essential oils, certain times of the day, or certain types of chairs to find what you need to take your study game to the next level.  Focusing on how and definitely where will ensure that you are not wasting time getting settled every time you study, and allow for more effective studying.

student bites pencil

Make priorities not procrastinations.

End the excuses and prioritize your life.  You need to sleep, so schedule it in.  You may think 3 hours is fine, but then on the weekend you are sleeping most of the day away and rushing to get things done Sunday night. Prioritize what is in your schedule and drop the procrastination for planning and working even a little bit ahead. If you look at what you have to do and know what is the most important thing you will be able to balance classes, friends, family, work, and personal time. You’ve been meaning to get to the gym but there’s no time, then make it a priority and don’t sleep in and go to the gym. What you prioritize will be where you find success. Prioritizing procrastination and excuses to spend the evening playing video games or binge watching the same show over and over will not help you at the gym, with your classes, or with other major areas of your life.

Make time for yourself.

For many students this is the first thing to go. From students who have families and full time jobs to students whose only focus is on their classes, both are just as likely to sacrifice doing things for themselves to make time for everything and everyone else.  We may also fool ourselves into thinking that something like a trip to the grocery store is our personal time, but you have to ask yourself if that really does give you the recharge you need to get through all the other things on your to do list.  Sometimes doing things for ourselves isn’t always the most fun or easy.  Carving out time to take care of your physical health is always a challenge, but necessary. Finding the time to read your favorite books, play (in healthy amounts) your favorite video games, or just spend time with your friends and family are some of the easier “me time” activities to find the time to experience.  You shouldn’t lose sight of personal goals or fun during your 4 years in college.  You don’t have to “forget” to see your doctor, dentist, counselor, personal trainer, or best friend because you got too “busy.” Start small, take 30 minutes a day to dedicate to yourself. Even if in the beginning you’re just figuring out what you do and don’t like or do and don’t need that is time well spent because you’re focusing on you and your needs. No, this isn’t selfish, it’s necessary to keep your battery charged so that you are able to give 100% of yourself to your classes, your job, and your relationships.