Let’s face it, college can get a little overwhelming and intimidating. The mind of a college student is constantly asking, “how do I know which classes I really want to take? Is my major right for me? How am I going to finish this twelve-page paper?” These are all common questions for a college student to ask herself, but they can lead to an overflow of stress. Being halfway done with college, I’ve learned the key attitudes and behaviors that are most necessary to reducing that stress. Here are 5 easy ways to stay positive in college:
- Have an Organized Daily Routine
The more your mind and body become adapted to a daily routine, the more organized you will be. Getting enough sleep and waking up at a reasonable time (not too early and not too late) will increase your motivation during the day. During an average school week, I typically go to bed at 11:00pm and wake up at 9:00am if I don’t have an early morning class. That’s a full eight hours which is what everyone, even college students, should be getting. Think of sleep as a way of charging your brain. It goes through a lot during the day and it needs that extra boost to perform at its best.
Speaking of boosting your brain, it also needs power from the food you eat. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s true. Food gives us energy and we need that to start our day right. Everyone is different of course, but in my experience sweets or a simple soda won’t provide essential energy. I always make sure to have a banana or yogurt with granola during breakfast. Both have super necessary ingredients towards helping digestion and are great sources of brain food.
After breakfast, avoid sitting around waiting to get ready for your class. Get ready early so you feel refreshed and ready to go. If you have time before class, get ahead on some homework or study for a test or quiz that you know is coming up. It is never too early to study, especially if you want an A in the class.
If you have a long day on campus or just a long day of work, don’t forget to eat consistently during the day. Always have a quick snack on hand in case you get hungry. Remember, our brains need it!
Lastly, breaks are super important! Give yourself some down time during your busy day. This could be just scrolling on social media for 10 – 15 minutes, eating a meal or snack, or people watching (it’s more entertaining than you think and a pretty brainless activity).
Meditating has been a primary factor in reducing stress for me. Once you make time for it and consistently partake in it, it is worth every second. Meditating is more important to your health than you might think. For the first time during the day, you actually focus on your breath and the connection between your body and mind. Normally, we can be too busy to focus on that. Breathing deeply and slowly calms the body, and as a result, decreases stress levels. Stress is a signal from your body to take a break and calm down, and meditation helps with that. After meditating, I feel so much better than how I felt before and even more energized and motivated to keep my day going.
Meditations can range from one minute to over thirty minutes, and each one helps to calm the mind in at least one way. There are several meditation apps to help you clear your mind at any time during the day. I personally use Calm and Unplug. Both have great meditations for sleep and are amazing resources for ultimate relaxation. My favorite part about Calm is the Breathing Circle. This is a simple non-guided meditation that helps to control the length of your breaths. Unplug gives you the ability to choose from a range of provided meditations and create your own playlists. Take the time to check them out!
3. Be Social
Spending time with others and distracting yourself shifts your focus away from whatever is causing you stress. Schedule some lunch dates or weekend hang outs with friends to distance yourself from the chaos of college. It’s not healthy to be attached to stressors for long periods of time. Give your brain a break and get together with some super cool people!
Another way to be social is to call a family member or friend. You don’t have to go out if you don’t want to! Use your own personal time to be social and catch up with those you love! This will definitely keep your mind off that pesky essay or eight-hour work shift coming up.
4. Avoid Procrastination
As college students, this can be a tough one. It’s so difficult not to fall into the trap of procrastination, which I can say I’ve fallen into several times. Oh, what’s that? There’s a brand-new season of your favorite tv show? There’s twitter drama going on? And there’s always the “just one more episode.” I encourage you to challenge yourself whenever you get the temptation to procrastinate. Tell yourself when you can watch that next episode. After that assignment? After class? Remember, down time is necessary but so is responsibility. That assignment isn’t going to finish itself!
5. Remember Why You’re Here
You’re in college, what does that mean to you? For me, it means working hard towards achieving my goals. The less stress I have, the more efficient working hard will be for me. All college students are taking classes and doing all these assignments for a reason. It’s up to you to discover that reason. I’m here to learn, grow and become the best version of myself.
Glance over this list the next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed out. Everyone has different strategies to reduce stress, but I hope my strategies come in handy! Work hard, give yourself breaks, and get that degree!