School season is here again! Yeah! Whether you are a pro and have been in school for a while now or maybe you are starting a new chapter like high school, college or university and it may seem like the scariest thing of all. There is a lot that you can do to make sure you are prepared and there are also activities to help you reduce stress and anxiety for students that won’t break the bank.
I remember going to school, even as a kid and the 3 days before I could never sleep. I will stay up all night in anticipation. My diet was very poor, same as far as my sleeping goes, I never exercised much and I would wait to accomplish anything last minute. I was depressed, stressed, in poor mental, emotional and physical health. It was a great time and I was wondering what was wrong with me.
Learning what I know now about what happens in your body and mind when you are under stress, I will ensure to make better choices for myself. The choices I made while going to school were never in a place to be healthy, it was often to please others to the detriment of my own health.
The below ideas are chosen to be easy, manageable, and affordable. Even by doing 1 or 2 out of this list could make a world of difference in reducing your stress management while going to school.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link, you may allow me to buy coffee while I write! Please see my disclosure for more details.
Healthy and Unhealthy Coping Behaviors About Stress
Part of stress management also means realizing if the behaviors you are choosing are healthy or unhealthy. I would debate that someone who goes to the gym 5 days a week to avoid something in life is unhealthy. Even though the act of exercising is healthy, the reason behind it might not be. Same would apply to food, are you healthy, but in reality avoid meals or social events because overeating scares you?
A good rule is if one of your friends would tell you about the behavior that is on your mind at the moment what would you tell them? Or even simpler, if you wouldn’t mention the behavior you are choosing to one of your close friends without the fear of being judged, it might be a good indication that there is something deeper to it.
Ever had someone told you about their high level of drinking? That is an extreme and easy case to see how this could be unhealthy. They aren’t always so easy to notice. Are you using a behavior to avoid something else or hide?
While going to college, I learned to indulge in food, not the healthy kinds. Lack of funds and knowledge about cooking and food was an issue. It was easy to eat out in fast food places every day and eat anything that could be made in a microwave. The poor lack of diet and nutrients did increase the stress, anxiety and depression I felt for years.
What happen in your body when you undergo stress and anxiety
Whether you are experiencing poor health, loneliness, depression and anxiety you are not alone. From a study done by Mcgill University, they have found that 60% of students experience a high level of stress. The study was done over 41 different post-secondary institutions and 43,780 students were participating.
Our brain and body don’t know the difference between being chased by a bear or being overwhelmed with the pile of homework to be done for our class the next day. Stress is stress. Fight or flight is an active defence mechanism, when it is activated, it will send a signal to your brain to pump stress hormones to prepare your body to either fight for survival or flee to safety.
When stress is added on a daily basis or you experience trauma, your body and mind remain in a constant state of fight or flight response. This leads to disruptions in your daily life, you will have a hard time sleeping, taking care of yourself, providing healthy nutrients to your body, and learning and auto-regulate your emotions. Just to name a few. Read more here.
Risk associated with high stress level
- Increased Depression
- Rapid Breathing
- Weakened Immune System
- Risk of Heart Attack
- High Blood Sugar
- Pounding Heart
- High Blood Pressure
- Fertility Problems
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Low Sex Drive
- Missed Periods
- Tense Muscles
List provided from the article at Healthline
8 Best Ideas to reduce stress for students and manage anxiety
It would be easy to advise to join program xyz and call it a day. The reality is students don’t have a lot of money and the priority on mental health is not always high. Your free time is spent on homework, studying and maybe even having a job on the side to afford almost nothing. Without mentioning the comparison game, having no idea who you truly want to be or who you will become and what you will do after school and the added pressure of what is expected of you from family or even yourself. Sounds great doesn’t it. What can you choose to do that can help you reduce stress for students without breaking the bank?
Tip 1: Meditate or Enjoy a Mindfulness Walk
How guided meditation works
Guided meditation will involve a coach or a guide that will provide you with the instructions and help create the experience for you. At the same time, they will bring you to the state of mind needed for the practice and offer advice.
Benefits of meditation and mindfulness walk
- Improved mood and well-being
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Reduce fatigue
- Improved visuospatial and verbal memory
Free Application for Guided Meditation
Insight Timer is an amazing resource that provides different types of meditation. The application is free to use and you can donate to the meditation practitioner if available to you.
Mindfulness Walk Explained
Meditation is used to create a sense of calm, peace and balance for your overall health. It will help you remain calm and manage different thoughts and symptoms throughout your day.
By bringing your focus elsewhere, on walking meditation, you will start to feel a sense of calm. With this in mind, you will start by observing your environment, and listening to the different noises and smells. You will shift your thoughts to your surrounding environment and become present at the moment.
To learn more about the different type of meditation, from guided to spiritual, read my other article.
Tip 2: Join a Low-Intensity Exercise or Yoga Class
You might believe that every exercise or fitness regimen may create the same benefits for your physical and mental health. The reality is a lot of exercises, especially high-intensity exercise or endurance training can aggravate your fight or flight response and make your stress and anxiety higher.
Great exercise that is low-intensity
- Slow Running
- Slow Cycling
Incorporating a few days of lower intensity can help recover and allow your body and mind to not add any added stress. A lot of the exercises above can be done from home, for free outdoors or at the sports center of your school.
Benefits of low intensity workout
- Help calms the nervous system
- Promote better sleep
- Boost your mood
- Reduces stiffness, pain or injury
- May help to manage high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease
If you are ready to include yoga into your life but have no idea where to start don’t miss the best 24 tips to get you started.
Tip 3: Find a Creative Hobby
Life can get in our way, our minds can start generating ideas and beliefs that might not be real. It is important to acknowledge when you are getting stressed and remove yourself from the situation if you can.
With Youtube, there is now an endless tutorial about everything you can imagine. A simple hobby, even something like coloring can help you change your focus and allow your brain to relax. Very similar to meditation.
Benefits of having a hobby
- Forces you to take some time for yourself
- Provide a way to declutter your mind
- Keep you in better physical health
- Can open up your world
- Can boost your career
Benefits of having a hobby have been generated by Council of Adult Education
VITAMIN A & D3 25,000 IU / 1000 IU
From Harvard University, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Also, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation.
Tip 4: Sleep, even if you have an exam or project due tomorrow
Trust me, I know how it might sound like a great idea to drink 2 liters of coffee at night and pull an all-nighter when you are in school. You might truly believe that you will have a good grade by doing so or you will have time to complete the project that’s due.
I wish providing organization in your schedule would be a class you can take, that would make a greater difference in your life and an easily affordable way to reduce stress, especially as a student.
Health Clinic of Cleveland recommends young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 years, should sleep an average of 7 to 9 hours, based on a report from the National Sleep Foundation.
Short-term problems with lack of sleep can include:
- Lack of alertness
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Impaired memory
- Increased negative emotion
- Reduce quality of life
The list above was provided by the article from the Health Clinic of Cleveland.
Tip 5: Learn new recipes
By introducing new recipes to your diet, you will have better control over your health and diet. By choosing a healthy alternative you will have better brain functions, you will be more focused and have better sleep.
Choosing what is best for you is one thing you can do while being in school, like anything else it is a habit to develop. It gets easier with time.
From a article from Harvard Health Blog, “Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy.”
No idea what to cook, don’t miss the 30 Easy Recipes for College Students.
Benefits of cooking
- Allows you to make healthier choices
- Bring happiness
- Expands your knowledge
- Saving money
- Increase time management skills
- Avoid food allergies and intolerance
- Increase confidence
List provided by Live Connect 24
Tip 6: Take a bath or a hot shower
If you are lucky, you might have access to a bath while being in school. I do know it is not a possibility for everyone. A hot shower can help create similar effects while being present for most students.
Tip 7: Journaling to Reduce Stress
Whether you would rather journal in a notebook or directly on your phone, either works to get you started. I would recommend starting journaling in the morning, even in a rush take 5 mins to at least write 3 things that you are grateful for. If you have more time, start by writing about your dream. If it doesn’t flow, start by writing a list of what you have to do today and adding what you feel about each task.
Not every day will be the same, some days you will be able to complete 15 pages and some days it will be barely a few sentences. Avoid judgment, even if some of the ideas you feel might be superficial if you think about it write about it.
Before going to bed, take 5-10 mins to simply reflect on your day. What emotions did you feel, what happened, and did something make you happy or mad? Again no judgment, this is not the place to fix everything it’s simply to bring awareness.
Benefits of journaling
- Achieve goals and understand your intention
- Track progress and growth
- Gain self-confidence and self-awareness
- Improve writing and communication skills
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Find inspiration
- Strengthen memory
Benefits provided by the article on Kaiser Permanente
What to remember to reduce stress for students
The most important thing to remember is that you are in control. I know it might not seem like it, but your happiness, mental health and emotional health are in your hands. How you choose to manage your time is entirely up to you.
Join my newsletter here
If you would like more tips and tricks on how to better your life. Don’t miss my monthly newsletter!