Between midterm papers, final exams, a part-time job and social life, the pressures of being a student add up quickly. All too often, juggling those priorities becomes a balancing act that causes our stress levels to rise, having a serious toll on our mental and physical wellbeing.
What are the symptoms of too much stress?
If you have ever found yourself fighting a sinus infection right before that final exam you’ve been anxious about for months, it may not be a coincidence. In fact, our bodies have very physical reactions to prolonged stress and anxiety that can disrupt our daily routines.
If you’re experiencing too much stress, you may have symptoms like:
- Headaches, fatigue or trouble sleeping
- Restlessness, a lack of motivation or irritability
- Muscle tension or stomach upset
- Social withdrawal, sadness or depression
- Increased drug, alcohol or tobacco use
These changes in behavior and bodily symptoms can take a toll on our immune system, causing even further illness and fatigue. So how can you prevent your stress levels from rising and maintain your health during the busy school semester?
How to manage stress in a healthy way
When we’re stressed, we often feel like just giving up. Here are a few stress management techniques you can use to prevent yourself from getting to that point:
Prioritizing is admittedly one of the hardest things to do as a student. Starting with your most critical priorities, block out time on a calendar for everything from homework to social time and work. If you naturally tend to procrastinate, move up your deadlines to create urgency.
2) Know when to say ‘no’
Remember, you aren’t a superhero and sometimes, something has to give. Your friends, family and coworkers understand that you are a busy student. Learning to say ‘no’ to requests for your time is a valuable skill that will help you manage your stress.
3) Get more sleep
According to the American Psychological Association, 45 percent of people who are experiencing stress report feeling even more stressed when they don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is a critical function that allows our bodies to regenerate, and without enough, it can affect our memory, judgment and mood.
4) Build exercise into your schedule
Often, increased stress tires us out and leaves us feeling less energized. If you can manage to fit exercise into your schedule, you will feel more energized and your brain will produce endorphins that help reduce stress levels.
5) Take time for yourself
When you’re caught up in a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to take time for yourself. Spending time on self-care is critical to maintaining a healthy mind, whether it means taking a nap, booking an afternoon at the spa, or blowing off some steam on the dance floor.
Often, prolonged stress can lead to issues with depression and anxiety. If you are a student struggling with your mental health, remember that you are not alone. Reaching out to a mental health professional can be the first step to returning to a healthy, balanced life.
At Your Counselling, we focus on helping you develop techniques for managing stress in ways that work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation or to book your first appointment.