Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.
Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
As a student, every spare minute seems to be filled with worrying – you feel like you have to achieve something and make plans for your future. Instead of relaxing in the holidays, you're planning an internship to add to your CV, or working to earn some well-needed extra cash.
If you're not careful, working too hard and worrying too much can lead to "burnout" – when everything seems bleak and you have nothing left to give.
It might not seem like it when you're feeling down, but living a more stress free life is possible. There are some really easy ways to beat stress effectively. Here are some that I have encountered as a student:
1. A varied and healthy diet
Eating fresh ingredients and lots of fruit is really important. Juices filled with vitamin C, such as orange or grapefruit juice, are said to be good for your immune system so can help with stress.
When you're busy and tired it can be tempting just to grab another pizza or ready meal, but cooking from scratch can be therapeutic as well as being healthier.
Doing sport at least once a week is the best way to reduce stress. It helps your body produce endorphins, which make you feel good. Even daily walks of 30 minutes can help reduce stress levels but it's even better to work out intensively. Even if you don't feel like it at the time you will feel the benefits afterwards.
Joining a sports club could also help with stress as the regular contact with other people should help improve your mood.
And why not try yoga? It's a great way to ease your mind and relax your muscles.
It might sound simple, but sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day can really help with stress levels. If you've never tried meditation before, it's worth a go.
Good breathing techniques can put you in a more relaxed state as they send oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm you down and beat the stress.
4. Take breaks regularly
Short breaks between working can help you switch off. But longer breaks are important too.
How about taking the weekend off to relax? Make time for fun and for yourself even if this means that you have to schedule time away from your work. You'll hopefully come back to your work feeling fresh.
5. Get a pet
It is said that spending time with animals is good for your health. If you pat a dog for a couple of minutes, your body releases hormones that make you feel happy and can decrease the amount of stress in your system.
Most uni halls won't let you keep an animal though, so spending some time with friends or family who have pets is a good option: you get the love without the commitment.
6. Sleep (and sign off Facebook)
Sleep is always the best medicine and some people find that small 20-minute naps can help increase productivity.
As students we tend to spend too much time on social media sites and answering emails, texts and phone calls. Sociability is fun – but too much of it, and too much computer time, can lead to more stress.
Failing to switch off from work because of your electronic gadgets will only make you even more stressed.
7. Quit smoking
Some people say they smoke to relax, but researchers on the European Board for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco suggest that nicotine suppresses the hormone serotonin, which fights stress. Another good reason to quit.
8. Try to see the positive side
If you missed a deadline, try to appreciate what you learned from this mistake: now you know how to plan ahead. Things might seem bad, but if you try, there is usually something positive to be learned.
9. Listen to music
Listening to music can help calm you down and put you in a better frame of mind. If you're feeling stressed, putting on some calming music while you work could really help.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it's really true. Laughing out loud increases oxygen and blood flow which automatically reduces stress.
Not taking life too seriously can help everyone live a better and easier life. Make time for yourself, log out of Twitter and take breaks. It's about time that we students accept that we can achieve just as much in life without all the stress.
How do you manage stress? Share your tips in the comments section below
It can be difficult for a parent to stand by and watch their student go through the rigors of exams, whether in high school or college. Exams are tough on students – many of whom don’t take care of their bodies with late (or all-night) night cram sessions, unhealthy eating habits, over-doses of caffeine, not to mention extremely high levels of anxiety and stress.
You begin to wonder: What’s my role here? As a parent, where should I step in?
While you can’t take the exams for them (yes, we know you’ve thought about it) you can help ease their exam anxieties in other ways.
The following suggestions detail ways that parents can help minimize exam stress for students of all ages:
Help Avoid Procrastination
Touch base with your student regarding his or her assignments and exams, asking whether or not he or she feels prepared and has studied.
You certainly do not need to become a micro-manager but you can encourage preparedness and readiness as much as possible.
If you’re bringing it up, he or she will become more aware of the timeline and get down to brass tacks.
Encourage Healthy Study and Lifestyle Habits
Try to encourage your student to make healthier lifestyle and, in turn, study, habits. If they’re not at home, you could send a care package with healthy alternatives (see suggestions below) to help motivate your student in making healthier decisions.
Better habits will lead to your student feeling better, staying more focusing in class and while studying and, ultimately, improved grades.
Think about the following lifestyle aspects and helping your student find healthier alternatives, whether it’s via a discussion or by sending a care package to show your support:
Find a healthy snack you think your student may enjoy while studying.
Think snacks that last and travel well in totes and backpacks like trail mix, nuts, whole wheat pretzels and sunflower seeds.
Talk to your student about how important it is to get the right amount of sleep. Consider sending a sound machine or, even easier, email them this link to a free web site called Sounds To Sleep To. They’ll know you’re thinking of them and it won’t even cost you a dime!
Inquire whether your student is taking any time off from studying to relax and have fun. It’s not healthy to study all day, every day because he or she is likely get burnt out eventually. If you’re concerned that no time is being set aside to relax, suggest he or she do so. If you feel this won’t work, you could try a couple of other options:
1. If you’re close enough to visit your student or live with your student, surprise them with an afternoon at the movies or somewhere else they enjoy. Note: make sure you let them know you’ll be taking them a couple days in advance so they don’t freak out the day of the trip.
Also, make sure it’s on a weekend, so they won’t be missing class and ensure that it’s not the day before a big exam or project. The goal is to treat them to something they enjoy – there’s no need to make it a big, expensive trip, just something out of the ordinary to help them relax.
2. If you’re not close by, contact your student’s closest friend and offer to pay for the two of them to go to the movies or somewhere else they’d enjoy for the afternoon. Again, it does not need to be somewhere expensive or elaborate, just a change of pace.
Another fun idea may be to check sites/apps like Groupon and LivingSocial for any activities within your student’s local area that you think he or she may enjoy and email your student the voucher, which he or she can use when ready. Just make she they have enough time to redeem it!
Encourage your student to develop musical tastes that enhance their study skills – at least while they’re studying. You can get creative and make a playlist for free and share it with them via music apps, like Spotify or send them an iTunes gift card, specifying the album you’d like them to download.
You can learn the best types of music to listen to while studying, along with song suggestions, here.
Encourage your student to develop regular exercise habits. In addition to being healthy in general, it will help to get out any built up stress and anxieties he or she may be harboring.
While you could send a yoga or exercise DVD, there are plenty of free websites dedicated to fitness and exercise as well. Why not send an email or e-card letting your student know you’re thinking of them, you know they’re stressed and you have a solution, along with a link?
One such site, FitnessBlender, provides hundreds of free full-length workouts for any fitness level and features workout routines that are 30 minutes or less, which is perfect for students on the go.
Offer Support – Before and After the Exam
Remind your student of your love and support – no matter the outcome of their exams. Let them know that you’re aware of their hard work and efforts and that you’re extremely proud of them regardless of the grade they receive on their exams.
Take time to remind them that their entire future does not depend on one particular exam and you know that they worked to achieve the best possible grade and it’s not the end of the world if their score isn’t what they hoped for.
Your support will likely go further than you think in terms of eases their stresses, as a lot of students put a lot of pressure on themselves to please their parents, whether the parents know it or not.
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