How to Make Your Student Life Colorful and Stress-Free?
Stress is one of the issues we can’t avoid completely these days. Our pace of life puts us under pressure, so we need to look for more keys to reduce stress and live a happy and colorful life. Students are especially vulnerable to stress – endless deadlines, huge volumes of materials to read, learn, memorize, the vibrant activities you have to leave behind during exam preparation. When you try to combine learning with active and colorful life, you find yourself even under more stress because, for some reason, the deadlines are flying by even faster, and you keep falling behind.
Don’t forget about added stress for first-year students – very often they have to move out of their town and their parent’s home where they’ve been taken care of and start living a whole new life where they have to assume responsibility for so many things. The first couple of months can seem like hell, and as soon as you get used to the new life, you have to face new challenges – exams, projects, internships. All in all, there’s a lot going on in their lives – and they have to somehow learn to manage all that.
How to reduce stress in college without sacrificing your whole time
A huge (and maybe for some of you, mind-blowing) secret is that stress-free college life depends only on your own effort – not on the deadlines, new responsibilities, strict teachers, etc. If you worry too much about it all, you will inevitably find yourself under emotional stress. It’s not uncommon that students experience stress even after the exams are over since they don’t know what they are supposed to do after that. Try to detach yourself from the situation that puts you under stress and observe what happens. Why do you feel so much pressure? What have you done not to be under stress? Or… what have you subconsciously done to actually be under stress?
If you want to know how to reduce stress in college, you need to learn your energy level management – yes, not TIME, but ENERGY management is key. You can have two hours to do a simple assignment and fail. Alternatively, a complex, creative task can be done within 30-40 minutes if you’re inspired and full of energy. What’s the point in managing your time correctly if you don’t have the fuel to do things? As experts put it, as long as our level of energy is higher than the level of tension, we aren’t under stress. However, when our battery is almost dead and the pressure gets more intense, we can find ourselves in depression, confusion or anxiety.
Throughout this article, we’ll be going back to this principle all the time because it’s the foundation of your success. Whatever tips we’ll be giving, your energy level should be the main factor you bear in mind. Whenever you make any changes in your life, you have to remember that, in the beginning, learning a new habit takes more time and energy, so you’ll have to make amends. Without further ado, let’s look at the core principles of happy, stress-free college life.
Managing your energy level to reduce the stress level in college
Most of the articles on this topic give great advice – sleep more, exercise, eat healthily, don’t overload yourself. All of these pieces of advice are awesome for anyone, not just students. However, when you examine them more closely and try to implement them, it seems like they were written by people who have never been in college. If you try to transform your life overnight and start implementing all the changes simultaneously, I bet you know what is waiting for you. Yes, more stress.
Let’s take a look at a simple and vivid example. If you’re used to eating mostly fast food and sweets and want to eat healthier from now on, there’s so much to learn! You can’t just throw all your food away and start spending the whole day cooking healthy. That’s a new skill that will take a lot of your time. That’s why you need to be as patient as you can and change your habits one by one with simple steps. For instance, try buying a bunch of bananas instead of a pack of mini Reese’s today. Substitute your white bread for the whole meal next week.
It’s important to be consistent and remember about the point B you plan to arrive at, but never rush too much. Natural non facit saltus is translated from Latin ‘Nature does not make a jump’. It means all the dramatic changes will level out over time. Bear this saying in mind next time you want to change everything at once if you don’t want to end up more exhausted than ever – with the minimum transformation!
Analyze what you spend your time on and cut out unnecessary activities
Make a list of all your regular activities and analyze the time spent on them. The weekly time frame would be perfect for that. In most cases, the list of activities will include studying, hobbies, quality time with family or friends, routine tasks and chores, and social media, but surely your list can differ. Try remembering what category the biggest share of your time goes to. Is this studying or hobbies? Or maybe you have days when Netflix devours most of your active time? While working on this list, you’ll get a lot of insights not only about your time and energy management but about your life as well. For example, if you gladly spend 40% of your time on hobbies, could it be that you should have chosen your hobby as your future profession?
Please, make it a pie chart:
|Hobbies (sport, dancing, etc.)||15%|
|Hanging out with friends||20%|
|Routine (hygiene, cooking, cleaning)||15%|
|Other (social media, Netflix, etc.)||10%|
Think of the ways to optimize the activities you spend your time on – if you love tennis and your friend is thinking of taking up something new, talk them into tennis. Then you’ll get to kill two birds with one stone – you do what you like with people you like. Sounds great? There’s more: if your friends are your college mates, you can study together and be more productive! I know it may sound weird for some of you because when you meet your friends, studying is the last thing you talk or even think about. However, it actually works – you understand and memorize things better because you get to hear different perspectives, and you can all share different ways you learn new concepts and ideas.
You can also listen to your favorite podcast or watch a TV show episode when cleaning the room or washing dishes. It’s a common thought these days that multitasking is harmful to our brain, but it basically leads to fatigue only if you multitask all the time and try to combine two mental activities (like studying and listening to a scientific podcast). Multitasking is ‘safe’ if you combine motor activities with thought processes.
Simple activities to reduce stress for super busy students
Okay, so you have some free time that you saved by multitasking. What are you going to do with it? You’ll find yourself procrastinating even more now that you have some more time. So bear this in mind: saving time makes no sense if you don’t find useful activities you can fit into the emerged time slot. It may seem that you pack your day with too many things, but an important principle is that you lose energy anyway – whether you procrastinate watching Netflix or sit and meditate for a while. Below are the simple ways you can add to your tight schedule painlessly and without compromising on too many things. However, remember that you shouldn’t implement them all at once – it’ll be hard, and you’ll end up quitting all of them over time.
- Avoid energy boosters and don’t rely too much on caffeine. Coffee can be a great way to stay awake and more concentrated once in a while when you don’t get enough sleep, but once it’s a routine, its effect weakens, and you need to increase the dose. Try to be more attentive to how your body responds to different stimulants, especially when the energy-boosting effect is gone, and you most probably won’t like the effect. You’re going to feel even more tired in the end, so why not use natural battery chargers like sleep?
- Meditate, observe your breathing, thoughts, emotions, and body. Mindful breathing is a habit that can take around ten minutes a day (not too much, huh?). But the effect is life-changing. As for your thoughts, emotions, and body, you don’t need to dedicate separate time blocks for that. Just whenever you’re in a waiting mode (line in the supermarket, traffic jam, etc.) direct your attention to what you’re thinking or feeling at the moment. Stress is often caused by our negative thinking or emotions, so by observing them and letting them go, you’ll naturally feel less stressed out.
- Get emotional support from your family and/or friends. They all care about you and will be glad to just listen to you or be a shoulder to cry on. Don’t be afraid to word your insecurities – you’re learning to manage your energy and time, so choose the right person and get ready to open up.
Your college life is potentially the brightest period when you’re free from your parent’s pressure and learn your own life management. Be consistent and relaxed to avoid too much stress and enjoy your student life.