By: John Colovas

How many college students struggle to balance class, schoolwork, relationships, social life, money, employment and probably a million other things? I know I do. Fortunately, I am currently approaching my final year at Kent State University, and I have become more accustomed to the college lifestyle than I ever could have imagined. Often, college students allow stress to overwhelm them and are unsure how to adjust their workload and newfound independence. This is completely normal, and it can be useful as feeling stressed is often the only motivation you need to get your work done. However, that is not always the case, and unmanaged stress is likely to cause more harm than good. Below are a few tips that will turn stress into a thing of the past.

  1. Get enough sleep – I cannot stress enough (pun intended) how crucial this is. I value this tip above all else mainly because it is the stress reliever that I struggle with the most. I know it may be tempting to stay out for a few extra hours with your friends or play that one last game of Gears of War even though it’s already 2 o’clock in the morning, but believe me, just go to bed! All the fun things you’re doing tonight will still be there tomorrow, and they’ll be even better with a few extra hours of sleep under your belt. Sleep is not only important because the body needs it to function, but studies also show that sleep deprivation can increase your stress level and determine how you react to stressful situations. It’s never easy to pass up a good time, but getting to bed at a reasonable hour will reduce your stress levels significantly.
  2. Be Healthy – Although obtaining the proper amount of rest certainly falls into this category, there is much more to being healthy than just sleeping. If you’re like me, it’s very difficult to sit down for a few hours to knock out some homework when you have more energy than the sun. Exercising is a great way to blow off steam, boost confidence and improve body image. All of which are likely to reduce stress levels. Additionally, college students often lose sight of healthy eating due to the constant running around, and perhaps even a lack of culinary skills. Although this factor may be especially difficult to correct, diet and food consumption are directly related to energy level. If you’re not consuming the proper number of calories or vitamins, it’s likely that conjuring up the energy to do work will be much more difficult for you.
  3. Recognize the role of your own thoughts – It’s obvious that most of the stress we feel throughout any given day is caused by a physical task or emotional trauma that’s weighing on our shoulders. However, the severity of most of our stress comes from our own opinion of ourselves and the situation. Taking on a stressful situation with a positive mindset and believing in yourself will instantly remove some angst from the process. Although this is easier said than done, it’s important to practice positive thinking; believing in your own abilities is the first step toward completing any task.
  4. Make time for fun – Adjusting to the college lifestyle is certainly a demanding transition. Although school work should come above all else, it’s important to schedule leisure time to allow yourself to unwind and recharge the batteries. Never underestimate the effectiveness of a quick power nap or participating in a fun activity to distract your mind from the overwhelming college stress.

Beginning a new life in college is, without a doubt, one of the most stressful time periods that we’ll face throughout our days. However, college should also be an enjoyable experience that allows us to learn and grow as we forge our professional futures. Although we will never truly escape stress, these key takeaways should be a great start toward reducing stress, achieving happiness and reaching success.

Has feeling overwhelmed ever affected your ability to focus?