3 Ways to Deal With Stress (Especially as a Student)

Written by Team Optimity

(2 min read)

What factors negatively impact your academic performance? What aspects of life are interfering with your ability to fulfill your potential as a post-secondary student? These questions were posed by the American College Health Association to over 40,000 students across 41 different Canadian universities and colleges. A long list of potential factors was provided ranging from alcohol use to allergies to homesickness. The results were astounding. 

The top four factors that negatively affected academic performance were all related to mental health; stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and depression; more than illness, relationship difficulties, internet use or financial concerns.

42% of students felt that stress was inhibiting their academic success, which is reflected in the plethora of papers and studies that have been released detailing increasing rates of mental health issues and suicide attempts at universities. 

The reality is that the university experience is intense. Most students find themselves living alone for the first time, balancing daily tasks like cooking and cleaning with extra-curriculars, staying healthy, keeping up with friends, and managing the academic rigours of university. Needless to say, it is understandable why university can be overwhelming.

Stress can be a good thing — if you have the right coping mechanisms in place. Acknowledging when things are overwhelming is critical to your well-being and it doesn’t make you weak, rather it demonstrates an enlightened understanding of yourself and your capacity to cope. Here are 3 effective ways to deal with stress, especially as a student:

  1. Reach out

Isolation can often increase stress, creating a circular loop of loneliness and a fear of reaching out. Instead, turn to your friends, family, or counselling services at your university or college. They might not be able to provide you with a simple answer, but simply talking about experiences you’re having can make them easier to handle.

2. Stay Healthy 

Your body is a system of moving parts and your food and activity levels undoubtedly influence how you feel. Eating a well-balanced and varied diet will help you feel healthier and more energized. Physical activity is a great way to release stress and anxiety as well. Although any form of physical activity is good for mental health, research has shown that playing team sports can provide additional benefits. There are tons of intramural teams at universities and colleges where the goal is to have fun regardless of skill level. Getting involved with these can provide you with social interaction and also benefit  your mental and physical health 

3. Say No

University students often feel that to get ahead they need to be a part of every extra-curricular, join every team, and go to every party. Saying yes to every offer can lead to being overworked and unable to find enough time to manage all the other elements of university life. Being aware of the time you need to spend on academic work, part-time jobs, friends, physical activity, and extracurriculars, will help you occasionally say no to maintain a good balance. In doing so, you are demonstrating heightened self-awareness, and taking steps to improve your mental health.  

There are great challenges and triumphs during the years spent at university and college. These tips may not help in every case, but taking the time to learn about ways to cope can help minimize challenges along the way, and ensure that your post-secondary experience is filled with as many triumphs as possible.

We want to hear from you! Share some of the ways that you deal with stress at school or work in the comments below. Your coping mechanisms may help a fellow student!

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