Everyone experiences stress at some point in their life. As college students, stress seems to follow us wherever we go. Balancing classes, internships, and extracurricular activities can be very challenging and stressful.
When ignored, stress can lead to long-term problems like depression, poor coping habits like smoking or overeating, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
One of the most difficult parts of handling stress is identifying it. You could be experiencing some symptoms of stress, like anxiety, loss of appetite, mood changes and difficulty sleeping and associate those symptoms with other sources.
Jordan Nichols, one of Blue Cross NC’s Client Wellness Program Managers, gives us some questions we can ask ourselves to identify stress when it is occurring:
Ask yourself these questions
What is the root of stress?
What is my reaction to this stress?
How can I reframe my stress and change this reaction?
What am I doing to help myself?
Sometimes identifying stress and reframing it is not enough. If faced with a stressor that feels like it’s taking over your life, Nichols suggests trying these stress-relief techniques:
Remove the stress when you can
This isn’t always an option, but when it is, walk away from the stress that is consuming you. Go for a walk around campus. Grab lunch with your friends.
Hit the gym
Try a new cycling class. When you exercise, your brain produces a chemical called endorphins. This chemical is associated with increased mood. This can also take your mind off of the stress and focus on something else.
Go to the grocery store
A balanced diet and quality nutrients can help combat stress. Consider adding berries, avocados, hot tea, citrus fruit and walnuts to your grocery cart.
Know it’s okay to ask for help
Stress isn’t simple. Counselors and therapists are great resources to help reframe, address and combat stress. Many college campuses have specialists that are trained to help college students through the challenges of being a student.