College is a uniquely stressful period. Many students are living independently for the first time, having to juggle their studies with the responsibilities of working a part- or full-time job. Earning good grades while still enjoying the social activities that come with campus life can be a delicate balance.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has created even more anxiety and uncertainty for many college students. Some schools have tried reopening for in-person classes, only to close shortly thereafter when cases of the virus spiked. Whether you’re attending class virtually or physically, what are some tips for reducing stress in college?
1. Get Organized
College has a looser structure than high school. Universities expect students to create their class schedules themselves and stay on track with the coursework they need to graduate. At the same time, there are no penalties – such as detention or suspension – for missing classes. It can be challenging to face this level of accountability if you’ve never dealt with it before.
To cope with anxiety related to self-discipline, it will help you to create a schedule and stick to it. Block off specific times of the day for studying and coursework. Then, reward yourself with a leisure activity like exercising. If the coronavirus pandemic has forced you to move back in with your family, set clear boundaries with other members of your household, so they know not to interrupt you when you’re trying to concentrate.
2. Get Enough Sleep
College students are often chronically sleep-deprived. The cliché of pulling all-nighters to cram for exams or finish writing research papers is part of countless media depictions of college life for a good reason. However, your body uses sleep as an opportunity to replenish, repair and revitalize itself. Reducing stress in college means taking some common-sense steps such as listening to your body and resting when you feel tired. No matter how much schoolwork is on your plate, do your best to get the full seven to nine hours of sleep recommended for healthy adults.
3. Talk Things Over
A health crisis on this scale is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are still so many uncertainties surrounding this novel coronavirus, and we’re all learning new things about its consequences every day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that nobody has all the answers, and no one expects you to be perfect. Share your feelings with a close friend or trusted family member. You’ll feel better when you voice your stress, anger or frustration, instead of trying to repress your emotions.
4. Live in the Moment
If you haven’t already been taking a mindful approach to life, there’s no time like the present to start. When you catch yourself worrying about what the future holds, or reviewing times in your past when you wish you’d responded differently, stop and ground yourself with breathing exercises. Try to let go of anxieties by being grateful for what you have.
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