Welcome back! With a New Year and semester, it’s the perfect time for resolutions and goals. College can be stressful – classes, studying, working, participating in sports and clubs and spending time with friends. It all can take a toll. According to a 2017 American College Health Association survey, 34.4 percent of college students reported that stress had negatively impacted their academic performance over the last 12 months, followed by depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Learning how to balance your life now, while you’re in college, can not only help you manage your stress but also put you on the right path for life after graduation. Here are a few practical tips to establish good habits and reduce stress.
Tip 1: Get Organized
One of the easiest things to do, and the hardest to keep up, is staying organized. However, this is the best thing you can do to reduce your stress throughout your semester.
To start, create a weekly or monthly calendar of all your Must-Do’s – classes, assignment due dates, study time, work and other appointments. Be sure to include times specifically for fun and study breaks. If you study in the library, the lobby will be hosting a variety of study break activities in the coming months:
Tip 2: Get Adequate Sleep
Don’t skimp on your sleep! The National Institutes of Health offers some great advice for getting good sleep. For starters, stick to a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Make sure you have a good sleeping environment with a quiet and dark place. And, this may seem like a no-brainer, turn off phones and other electronic devices that may interrupt your sleep.
Tip 3: Balance Your Diet
It can be difficult to eat healthy in college, but being intentional about eating the right foods at the right times can improve your health. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and limit your intake of foods high in sugars, salt and saturated fats. And don’t skip meals! This makes you “hangry,” causing irritability, difficulty concentrating and increased stress levels.
For more information on healthy eating, visit the USDA’s Choose My Plate website.
Tip 4: Move It
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you should get at least two-and-a-half hours of physical activity each week. Not only does regular exercise help to lower your stress levels, but it also helps your overall health, including helping you to sleep better. If you need some quiet meditation time, consider walking down to the Speer Pavilion, hiking Arkadelphia’s DeSoto Bluff Trail or fishing at DeGray Lake.
But exercise doesn’t have to be a lonely pursuit. You and your friends can participate in intramural sports, enjoy the Ouachita Climbing Center or borrow basketball, volleyball or racquetball equipment to use at the Sturgis Physical Education Center.
For more ideas on getting exercise, visit Ouachita’s RecLife website.
Tip 5: Get Involved
Academics should be your main priority while you are in college, but that’s not all college is about. Part of your college experience should be about developing a healthy social life. Whether it is on campus, with your church or out in the community, get involved and develop a support network of friends who – you guessed it! – will be key to reducing your stress.
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