What is Stress?
Stress is the body's psychological and physical response to a perceived threat or demand. Stress can play a part in various health problems such as heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin conditions, headaches, depression and mental health issues. Maintaining healthy stress levels are key in reducing the risk for these health problems.
People experience and cope with stress in many different ways. While some people might listen to music, exercise or do a hobby when they are stressed, others might drink, smoke, over eat or procrastinate. It's important to be aware of and understand the ways in which you exhibit stress so that you can prepare for stressful situations and choose activities to de-stress that will work best for you.
Signs of Stress
- Physical: increased heart rate, dry mouth, chest pains, nausea
- Behavioral: increased drinking, yelling, swearing, lack of sleep
- Mental: decrease in memory, confusion, lack of concentration
- Emotional: Anger, anxiety, fear, impatience, frustration
Stress Management Tips
Eat a balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks and caffeine which will make you crash. Including healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your meals will help provide your body with the nutrients it needs and help you stay focused, alert, energetic and healthy during times of stress.
Find certain things that you enjoy to relax and unwind. This could include listening to music, meditating or taking a walk. Check out the Calm Website for a few relaxation exercises.
Try to exercise 30 minutes per day to keep you energized and feeling healthy. Exercise helps your muscles release tension, burns off stress hormones and releases endorphins (feel-good hormones). Take advantage of the various opportunities offered by UC Campus Rec.
Get Enough Sleep
Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Plan to allow for a full night's sleep; an all-nighter will not help you pass the exam as much as a solid study period with a good night's sleep.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Keep your mind alert and focused. Drugs and alcohol can cause undue stress and anxiety that you don't need.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Positive self-talk and optimism can be powerful tools when dealing with stressful situations. Remind yourself that you can and will get through. Put reasonable expectations on yourself and look for the positives in the situation.
Just Say No
Not just to drugs but to the requests of people around you for your time or energy. Tell your friend you can't hang out, just say no to working extra hours or spending time on an extracurricular activity.
Time Management Tips
Keep a detailed planner
Come up with a system that works for you. It may be a paper planner, a planner on your phone, a Google calendar or iCalendar. Whatever it is, have a place to track all of your time commitments.
Finish the paper that is due on Tuesday before spending all of your time studying for the test on Friday. Use to-do lists to prioritize what needs to be done first. This also includes putting school work before other activities.
Plan out your time
Decide how much time to devote to each task or activity that needs to get done. You don't want to spend all of your time on one thing only to find out that it's midnight and you haven't even started the paper due tomorrow.
It just might not be realistic for you to be a full-time student, work two jobs, play sports and be the president of your student organization. Learn how to say no so that you can spread out your time reasonably.
In college, you have to make your own schedule, budget your time and ultimately only you are responsible for completing all of your tasks. Take charge and come up with a system that works for you.