You’ve read our piece on “What Is Student Stress?” and yes, that’s you. You are a mess. So what now? What are the keys to stress management for students?
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1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Stop comparing yourself to other students, to friends, to siblings, and to people on social media, for that matter. Just stop.
Comparison is a fast track to never feeling good enough. Which is a fast track to always feeling stressed. Besides, you simply never know another person’s true story. Sure, they might seem together on the outside, but they might have all sorts of problems you don’t know about.
TOOL – Make time each day to write down three things you are grateful for, and three achievements you had that day, however small. When you feel hopeless go and read these lists. It really helps. And gratitude is proven by research to help you feel calmer.
2. Become a thought detective.
Stress is usually less based on what is going on around us, and more based on what is going on in our heads. Something that was actually no big deal is translated into a monster in our minds.
And if we are stressed we are often addicted to negative thinking, including black and white thinking (aka, you tend to be a drama queen).
TOOL – Thought charts. This is a tool from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that is designed to help you turn your wildly negative thoughts into more balanced and useful ones. A short version is to identify your negative thought, come up with the exact opposite, and then find a thought in the middle. But learn the full method first in our article on “Balanced Thinking“.
3. Go present moment.
Here’s the thing about stress and anxiety – they actually feed off the past and future. We worry about what we said and did (past) and what might or might not happen (future).
Guess where stress can’t thrive so well? In the present moment. Which is something we actually have control over.
TOOL – Mindfulness. It a great tool when it comes to stress management for students. It pulls you right into the present moment, and is proven to lower stress and give you better focus. Plus it is easy to learn . Read our free “Guide to Mindfulness” or try a mindfulness app.
4. Be all about boundaries.
Meeting new people at university can be exciting, but we can also get swept up. Go along with things we really don’t want to. Feel we have to spend time with people we aren’t sure we like. Guess what – that all causes a lot of stress. It’s not worth it.
TOOL – Your tool here is the word ‘no’. But such a little word causes a lot of fear in many of us who seem certain saying no will ruin our life. It won’t, if you learn to say it in the right way. Read our article on “Saying No” and also on “Setting Boundaries”.
You might find people are so impressed with your self-respect they like you more, not less. And remember, the more you say no to people and things you don’t like, the more you create space for ones you do like.
5 . Get on top of time.
Poor time management is at the root of a lot of student stress. Many of us really don’t understand time at all.
It’s all good to make a schedule, but if you don’t have a realistic idea of how time works in the first place, and of how long things do and don’t actually take you? It won’t work and will leave you more stressed.
TOOL – A timer. Seriously. Spend a few days setting a timer to go off every hour and write what you have done in that hour. And when you do certain tasks (talking on the phone, studying, a ‘quick’ workout, doing your hair) actually time them to see how long they really take versus what you think they take. Don’t judge what you learn. Use it to make a new schedule that is realistic.
6. Ratchet up the self-care.
Yes, the first few weeks of drinking, parties and a pure pizza diet is great. But you can’t continue like that and expect to feel good. Stress and physical health are linked.
To combat stress you need energy. And that means good sleep, a better diet, and hangover free days.
TOOL – Exercise, because it is now proven to elevate your mood. The secret is to find the exercise that is right for you, not the exercise someone says you should do, or your friends all do. If you enjoy Zumba and your friends think it is lame, who cares. You sanity is at stake. Just do it.
7. Get support.
Support is the best tool there is when it comes to stress management for students. In fact it’s essential if we want to get over stress quickly.
Talking to the right person can help you find the root of your stress that you might have been entirely overlooking. And together you can find new ways to solve that stress and set goals that make life easier.
TOOL – A coach, counsellor, or therapist. Friends are great. But proper support means you’ll feel better way faster. Most colleges and universities provide free or low cost counselling. And you can find affordable therapists anywhere these days if you search. You can even do all your therapy over Skype if you hate the idea of going to an office.
Looking for a therapist who ‘gets’ you, and at a price you can afford? Want to do sessions from the comfort of your room? Our booking site provides you with confidential Skype therapy wherever you live.
Still have a question about stress management for students? Post in our public comment box below.