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Stress happens. Especially when you’ve just moved to a new city, embarked on a journey with new friends, and are committed to hours of studying and homework. Being a college student isn’t easy, but it’s definitely manageable! Whether you’re a freshman taking your first steps on campus or a senior preparing for finals and a new life chapter, stressful times will indefinitely surface. Luckily, stress management can (and should) become part of your daily routine. Here are our top five tips to help you along the way.
We’ve all heard that sleep can go a long way when it comes to staying healthy. But do you really know what a good night of rest is doing to your brain? The American Psychological Association notes that good sleep allows our brains to recharge, our muscles to repair, promotes memory consolidation, along with many other benefits. In fact, 21 percent of adults feel more stressed from not getting enough sleep. There are so many reasons why at least 8 hours of sleep every night is great for your body; just don’t forget about the benefits for your brain too!
Still having trouble getting some shut-eye? Try relaxing techniques like taking a warm bath, turning down the lights, or relinquishing screen time at least one hour before bed.
While it comes as no surprise that we tend to overeat or undereat when we’re stressed, what exactly is happening in our bodies that link stress and bad nutrition? According to Harvard Medical School, stress can both shut down the appetite by releasing a corticotropin-releasing hormone or increase the appetite by releasing cortisol. Either way, your stressed-out brain is sending the wrong signals when it comes to healthy nutrition.
Keeping up with your healthy eating habits starts by managing your stress. Talk to friends, try meditation or develop an exercise routine to stay on top of stress levels.
3. Be active
If you’re too stressed to find an exercise routine, you may not realize that exercise itself can help you lower stress! The Mayo Clinic suggests that regular exercise not only increases overall health but also has some stress-reducing benefits. Your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. When you are physically active, those endorphins get an extra boost and can even give you that “runner’s” high feeling after a great workout.
If you’re struggling to get in a workout, try inviting a friend, changing up your routine, or exercising in increments, which give brief bursts of energy. Don’t forget that all of this work will help the endorphin level skyrocket, keeping your stress at bay.
4. Find connections
Although it might sound obvious to seek out a connection with friends, coworkers, or family when the stress levels are high, many people choose to hole up and try to tackle their stress alone. The Mayo Clinic states “studies have demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are associated with a greater risk of poor mental health and poor cardiovascular health, as well as other health problems.” Many college campuses do a great job creating social groups for students. Try your student life center to see where you might fit in best.
So next time you’re feeling the anxiety creep its way in, call someone, grab a friend for coffee, or better yet, a walk around the park!
5. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness all happen. The great news that someone is ready to talk to you about it. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether it’s a counselor, doctor, friend, parent, etc., asking for help is the first step to feeling better, and even feeling your best!
Learn more about how TimelyMD cares for the mental health of college students.