10 recommendations from a student for managing the stress of college

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I knew the spring semester of 2017 was going to be a tough one. I was recently hired by a law firm and had decided to take three of the most hardest classes in my major. The pressure was on and I felt ready.

I bought a new agenda and all my books were delivered on time. January went by, then February came and from there everything went downhill. Being a full time student and working full time is not something that can be done easily, at least not by me.

Stress caught up with me. My diet was awful, I went days without eating at appropriate times and when I did eat, the meal was not healthy. My sleeping schedule was also a mess. I felt so stressed I couldn’t sleep. I woke-up in the middle of the night thinking about how stressed I was.

Related: Counselors see a rise in mental health issues among college students

To add, I was not giving myself time. Time to be with my family and friends. There were times when I did go out, but it was like I wasn’t really there. I didn’t enjoy the moment because, I was constantly thinking of the things I had to do; meet deadlines, work responsibilities, payments, appointments, etc. My grades started going down. I started to feel useless and inefficient at my new job. My interpersonal relationships were not going well. I started to get headaches, back aches and most of the time I felt dizzy.

Until one day my body couldn’t take it anymore. I collapsed. I fainted.

Its sounds a little dramatic, I know. But for me, it was wake-up call. A wake-up call to find balance and make some changes in my life.

Fortunately, it happened at the middle of the semester. I had enough time to make changes and start a healthy and new routine.

Here are some recommendations on how to stay healthy when you are a college student and working part-time/full-time. These are habits I started working on and let me tell you, not only did I manage to save my semester but I felt great.

1. Maintain a healthy diet

I believe this was the hardest one for me. I was busy all day; I was either working or at a class. I didn’t give myself time to eat. The truth is that as college students you will always be busy, but you have to give yourself time to eat right. Bring your lunch to school. Do meal preps and pack your lunch the night before. There are many options to eat that are healthy and delicious. Pack a lunch that you will look forward to eating. I started packing my lunch and one thing that really helped me was eating in between meals. It’s the 21st century; there are many ways to get informed on how to maintain a healthy diet. However, if you want to keep track of your meals with an expert, you can visit the Student Health Center. There, they will provide you with healthy diet according to your needs. For this one there are no excuses.

2. Exercise

Many colleges offer gym memberships and physical fitness classes. Take advantage of these benefits. You might feel you are too busy to fit exercise in your schedule but if you think about it how much time do we spend watching Netflix? Skip one episode of your favorite show and use that time to go and exercise. Exercising can improve your mood and boost your energy. After a good workout you will feel great and you will perform better in all your activities throughout the day. Exercise was a great stress reliever for me. I would recommend getting a gym partner. My best friend and I started going together, that way we would motivate each other when one of us didn’t feel like going.

3. Get enough sleep

This is a big one, especially for college students. We like to pull all-nighters, thinking that we will do better on an exam or project. WRONG. Our brains and bodies need to rest. Actually it’s really good if you take a small nap during your day. According to a study done by NASA naps can restore your alertness, enhance your performance and reduce mistakes and accidents. Set up a sleeping schedule. Go back to the good old days and have set bedtime. This will help you perform better throughout your day. Before you go to bed, do not watch your favorite series, instead read a good book. That way it will be easier to fall asleep.

4. Organize your schedule

Have an agenda. Schedule everything, from assignment deadlines to birthday parties and get togethers. It’s important to organize your day to use your time efficiently. Something that I did this semester was to have a big calendar where I would write down all my activities and responsibilities. With the calendar I could see how much time I had left to submit an assignment or make a payment. As college students we think we have too much going on, but when you organize it, it will be easier to get things done.

5. Take Breaks

If you are like me sit down and read this one carefully. I’m one of those people who feels guilty if I’m watching Netflix. I can’t watch a show without thinking in the back of my head “I should be studying, I should be working.” It is important to take breaks, to relax. Go out, have fun. Give yourself time. It’s okay to take breaks. Don’t pressure yourself to much. Life is not all about work, work and work.

6. Talk to your professors

When this happened to me I felt ashamed to tell my professors. I felt if I told them I would be seen as weak. Again, I was wrong. I told my professors what had happened to me and told them how stressed I was. Professors can be very understanding, we just have to communicate with them. Set up appointments with them. All professors have office hours, take advantage of them to visit. Professors want to help you, they don’t want to fail you – trust me. Communicate to them if you are not understanding something or update them on how your final project is going. You will do better in your classes if you just communicate. Plus, they are very smart people and you can learn a lot about your career path through their experiences and knowledge.

7. Keep close the people who love you and care for you

Know who your real friends are. This can be complicated, especially in college when everyone is trying to figure things out. Keep the good friends and don’t stay in toxic relationships. Be friends with people who support you and want the best for you. Sometimes our friends can be our biggest support system if we choose them right.

8. Organize your work area or bedroom

Having a space when you can work efficiently is important. Keep your desk organized and clean. Set-up a space where you can actually enjoy working at. Also, keeping your room organized and clean is important. After a long day, coming to a clean space can help you relax un unwind from all the stress.

9. See a doctor

I thought nothing was wrong with me. I thought I was healthy and the truth is I wasn’t. I went to a doctor and he found out I was pre-diabetic. With the right treatment and diet I’m much better. If you are not feeling well go and see a doctor. A physician can help you to feel better and prevent any future diseases.

10. Enjoy!

Actually enjoy being a college student. College is fun! It is a place where we get to learn and explore who we are and where we want to go. The possibilities are limitless if you think about it. The fact that we get to learn about something that we enjoy is fascinating. Engage in student-life activities. Meet new people and get out of your comfort zone.

I find all these recommendations very helpful. I can safely say that they made me a better college student, employee, friend and daughter. In order to be a good student you must take care of yourself. Give yourself time, enjoy and relax.

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