Today’s college students are feeling the strain of our busy, modern world. In fact, a recent report found that 1 in 3 college students experiences significant levels of depression and anxiety. Additionally, anxiety, depression, and stress were the most common concerns assessed by clinicians treating college students, according to the 2021 Annual Report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
The effects of stress are, well, stressful themselves. Stress can cause short- and long-term physical symptoms such as headaches, a rapid pulse, elevated blood pressure, stomach pain, an upset stomach, and even chronic pain. Stress also negatively impacts your immune system, disrupts sleep, and can leave you exhausted and depressed.
Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and food to deal with stress, but overindulging in these habits leads right back to — you guessed it — more stress. We know that trying to juggle college with the demands of family, work, and life can get a little hectic, but don’t despair.
This infographic showcases useful stress management strategies for college students. Take a deep breath and enjoy.
Take an already busy life that may include work and family obligations, add college classes and studying, sprinkle in exams, budgeting, and other interests, and then try to have a social life on top of it all. It’s easy to see why college students are so stressed. Let’s look at some ways students can alleviate stress, succeed in college, and live healthy, balanced lives.
Did you know that an unhealthy diet can affect your ability to manage stress levels? Equip your body with the nutrition it needs to fight stress. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods, and go easy on the caffeine.1
This is one of the best activities you can engage in to reduce stress.2 Exercise produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and that can lower stress levels. Try walking, jogging, or yoga.
Have an Outlet
It’s when you don’t think you have time for a break that you need it the most. Find a new hobby, play sports, join a club, paint, draw, garden — something that gives you an outlet from the tension of everyday life.3
Build a Support System
Having a strong support system is vital to weathering stressful times and living a joyful life. Surround yourself with family or friends who lift you up, encourage you, listen without judgment, and provide sound perspective.
Make a Plan
Get organized, make a plan, and stick to it. Prioritize your obligations each week, and then schedule time for each — time for studying, working, family and friends, and yourself.
Your thoughts create your reality, and it's time to turn negative thinking around.4 Try saying positive affirmations such as, “I am relaxed and calm. I can handle this situation with ease.” Or, “No matter the obstacles, I will rise to the challenge.”
Meditation is a simple way to lower stress that you can do anywhere and at any time.5 Begin with a simple technique such as deep breathing, do a guided meditation (find these on YouTube), or repeat a mantra.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve one's physical and emotional well-being. Lavender, lemon, clary sage, jasmine, bergamot, and ylang ylang are reported to lower stress and anxiety.6
Journaling can help you process life's problems and deal with everyday stress.7 Give it a shot.
If Stress Gets Too High
Everybody needs help from time to time. If you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, struggling to sleep or enjoy life, or finding yourself turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with stress, it's time to ask for help. Reach out to:
- Anxiety and stress are the top 2 mental health concerns facing college students.8
- Up to 44% of college students experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.9
- 75% of students dealing with depression and anxiety are reluctant to seek assistance.9
- During the 2020–2021 academic year, over 60% of students met the criteria for one or more mental health problems.10