Stress is how our body responds to threats, which is to gear up for fight or flight. Unfortunately, as a student, the things that cause us to stress—writing papers, big exams, social pressures, things going on back home—aren’t generally helped by a fast heart rate, a hypervigilant alertness to danger, and rapid, shallow breathing.
In fact, unless we’re working with chronic anxiety or a trauma response, the best way to manage stress is to handle the things causing us to stress.
Create a schedule. As a student, you’re juggling a lot of responsibilities and expectations. Use lists, calendars, phone reminders—whatever it takes to keep track of the things you need to do. And then do them. Give yourself ample time to do the things you need to do.
Get organized. Prioritize the things on your to-do list. Factor in due dates, and how long you think it’ll take to get each project done. Then do them.
You’re going to drop the ball sometimes. We all do. Pick up the pieces and keep moving. Reach out to anyone affected and resolve any issues. Then let it go. If you know what happened to cause the issue, formulate a plan to not let that happen next time.
Eat. Sleep. Exercise. See the sections on anxiety, sleep issues, and depression for more information. In short, keep these three basic human functions in balance, and you’ll be better prepared to handle stressful situations.
Try paying attention to your self-talk and see how much of it is negative. This can get toxic. Try asking yourself if you would talk to your best friend that way? Is there another way you can talk to yourself?
Procrastinating only makes things worse. And substance use as a way of coping with stress—while that may provide temporary relief, it typically only allows the stressors to get bigger and more stressful. The only way to end the stress is to handle the problem.
Try this free anxiety app designed for young adults.
Remember to breathe with this free app that reminds you to pause.
Monitor and manage stress and anxiety with this free app.