Managing Stress for Students

One of the biggest problems facing students is stress.  Between deadlines for school, working with groups, applying for scholarships, doing homework, and many others, stress creeps in and never really goes away till the semester’s over.

Stress destroys your productivity, is a leading cause of disease, and kills your test scores.  However, with a little proper planning and time management, you can virtually eliminate stress from your life during the semester.

First, you must understand exactly what is stressing you out.  Begin by taking a few minutes for yourself, such as when you are walking between classes, or during your lunch break, and focus on the cause of stress.

When I did this exercise, I came up with 3 main reasons that students get stressed:

  1. Time Crunch
  2. Difficulty Understanding the Material
  3. Physical and Mental Exhaustion

With proper planning, you can eliminate these stressors.  Plan out your schedule for tomorrow, from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep.  Do everything within your power to stay on schedule, just for tomorrow.  I guarantee that this will increase your productivity, and decrease your stress.  This exercise, practiced throughout your school career will virtually eliminate #1.

When you have difficulty understanding the material, your best option is to go get help, whether it be a TA or a private tutor.  Often, I found that by just going back over the material in the book, I gained a new insight into understanding the concepts that I didn’t get the first time.  If you spend several hours, and still do not get it, then evaluate your situation: Do you need this class?  Perhaps you should drop it if you don’t.  If this class is required, then is this really the major for me?  If I continue on without the knowledge of this subject, how much will it hurt me grade wise and other ways?  Is there any other solutions I can come up with to resolve this stressor?

Physical and mental exhaustion is one of the biggest problems you will probably encounter while you attend school.  Let me get this out there straight off the bat: All nighters are a BAD idea.  If you are under a time crunch and are considering an all nighter, please be aware that if you’re studying for a test, you will invariably crash in the middle of the test.

I have found that the root cause of physical and mental exhaustion is a lack of planning.  If you aren’t exercising 4-5 days a week, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.  You don’t have to push yourself to your limit, but get yourself moving.  This alone will give you a gigantic energy boost and help you think clearly.  Go exercising first thing in the morning.  This is where a lack of planning comes in.  If you’re not planning your days, you will find that you don’t have enough time to get in an exercise routine in the morning.  Especially if you’re still pulling all-nighters. 😛

Be sure to plan in breaks within your schedule, so you can rest your brain.  I love playing video games during my rest breaks.  Do whatever relaxes you.

Also, if you are trying to stay awake by drinking coffee all day, try quitting.  Caffeine is a crutch that fogs your mind and destroys your productivity.

Finally, remember that it’s not the end of the world if you can’t do whatever is stressing you out.  Keep this particular task in perspective.  Are you really going to remember it 5 years down the road?

Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions to reduce stress.

-Neal

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