Managing Stress for Educational Success

In this busy season with semesters ending and holidays approaching, stress levels for most students have reached their peaks. Final papers and projects are due, and students are busy cramming for finals. Not to mention the stress of the responsibilities that come with the holiday season. Care for your mental health is an incredibly important piece to college success, and by learning stress management skills, you can finish out the year with flying colors.

1. Time Management
One of the most effective ways to manage your stress is to manage your time. Take the time to map out how much time you need for studying and projects and figure out how to fit that time into your schedule in a way that works for you. That may look like studying for an hour every day instead of cramming for a test the night before, or starting on a paper long before it’s due.

2. Exercise
While exercise has great physical fitness benefits, research now shows that it also has great mental fitness benefits as well. Exercise reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances your overall cognitive function. At the same time, exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators, and reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

3. Good Sleep Habits
Most students don’t get enough sleep, but not getting enough sleep can actually increase your stress levels and can lead to or exacerbate other physical and mental problems. Make sure you are getting the recommended hours of sleep, and take the time to practice good sleep hygiene so you’re ready to tackle your responsibilities.

4. Mindfulness Meditation
Taking just a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and help the practitioner be more in tune with their body and emotions. Unlike other forms of meditation, mindfulness meditation is not about clearing your mind, but instead, it’s about being present in the moment and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. You can learn more about mindfulness meditation and find guided meditations here.

5. Study Breaks
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the projects and studying you need to do that you may not even remember the last time you saw the sun. The brain needs time to absorb what it’s learning. Make sure you incorporate breaks as a part of your daily study habits. Take this opportunity to take a walk and get some fresh air, stretch, or do something you love like playing a quick game of pick-up game of basketball.

6. Positive Thinking
Take the time to recognize how your thoughts can affect your own emotions and state of stress. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your situation, try to look at the glass half full. It takes time and practice, but through making the choice to change how you think, it will eventually become second nature.

7. Reaching Out
Everyone needs a little help or time to vent. Reach out to friends and family, and talk to them about how you’re feeling. We guarantee they will listen and will want to help in any way they can. If you find you need more professional help and are a university student, the health services on your campus can typically put you in touch with a therapist at no cost.

8. List Making
When you have numerous large projects and tests looming, it can feel overwhelming. Sit down and make a list of what big projects you need to complete, and then break those down into the smaller steps that will help you accomplish the larger goals. It’s much easier to work through the smaller goals, and as you progress through those, pretty soon your larger goals will be accomplished.

9. Relaxation Techniques
There are a lot of relaxation techniques available, and they work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a few minutes to practice one of the many techniques available. Some of those techniques include breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

Stress doesn’t leave once you graduate, but by learning stress management skills now, you will have the skills you need to carry you through any stressful situation you may encounter. The end of the year and holidays can be a hard time for everyone. If you find yourself having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and receive free, confidential support.