Strategies for Reducing Stress

Now that you know the cause of your stress, let’s figure out ways to reduce it.

-Relax. You should make relaxation a regular part of your day. If you don’t know anything about how to go about relaxing, there are many self-help books. At the very least, try deep breathing or meditation for a few minutes each day to help you unwind. If you find yourself “stressing out,” stop whatever you are doing, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. This should help you relax so that you can return to what you were doing, feeling in more control of the situation.

-Exercise. Working out daily is a great stress buster. Physical activity helps take your mind off of your stress and the chemicals your body releases during exercise actually boost your ability to handle stressful situations. If you are feeling especially “stressed out,” try taking a walk or a jog to clear your head.

-Take charge. You are in control of your own situation and you have to accept that responsibility. By taking charge, you can control the amount of stress you feel by remembering that stress is an internal reaction to situations and it is often really an overreaction. However, if stress gets out of control, you can also take charge of the situation by seeking help.

-Put problems in perspective. Sometimes it helps to talk to a good friend or a family member who has been in a similar situation to help you put your problems in a more realistic light. Don’t allow yourself to get carried away imagining all the things that could go wrong in a situation-instead, focus on the positives.

-Be flexible. Everyone makes mistakes, and learning from your mistakes will help reduce your stress levels. But if you are too set in the way you do things or the way you view the world you may end up causing yourself additional stress. It pays to have an open mind and to try new approaches.

-Develop interests. Join a club on campus, meet with others who share similar interests, or find some new interests on your own. By having interests outside of schoolwork, you will be able to enjoy yourself and relax during your time off from studying. Developing new interests also helps you in the classroom because you tend to do better in subjects that interest you.

-Seek help. Seek out campus resources to help you through stressful times. In fact, it is a good idea to seek out the people and places that can support you BEFORE you need them. Often problems can be solved easily if you ask for assistance before a small problem balloons into a big one.

-Enjoy yourself. Take a walk, read a good book, see a movie, call a friend. Do something you like to so before you start feeling overwhelmed. Remember, if you manage your life appropriately, you should have plenty of time for studying and engaging in activities for fun.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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