In today’s society, we all strive to be ambitious. We strive to put our best foot forward and give our 110% in anything we do, whether it be athletically, academically, or even socially. But what do we do when we feel ourselves becoming slowly overheated? When the stress of college life starts to catch up to you? Burnout is so real and can affect your mental health and quality of work. How do we manage ourselves during times of stress and anxiety?
First and foremost, know that you are not alone!
Around 60% of the U.S students have reported feeling ‘overwhelming’ anxiety. Reaching out to others who experience the same stress can be one of the first steps to pacifying that looming feeling of stress. I know if I’m feeling overwhelmed and I talk to my friends about it, I almost immediately feel better.
Take a deep breath and reevaluate.
In times of high stress and anxiety, it’s easy to let yourself feel down about the situation you are in. It’s also easy to overthink and let your thoughts take hold of you. These are normal reactions! When you find yourself in a situation when you feel your thoughts are taking over, take a deep breath and reevaluate. Let yourself be present in the moment you are in. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts... acknowledge them, but don’t let them control your emotions.
Calm your body down.
The human nervous system has two components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When you get stressed or anxious, the sympathetic system releases the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline). These hormones create the physical symptoms we feel of stress. It makes your heart race, raises your blood pressure, and quickens your breathing. When you start to feel these symptoms, the best thing to do is to work on calming your body down. You cannot clear your head until your body begins to relax along with it. Take deep breaths or meditate! Go for a walk! Find ways to exert your nervous energy.
Write down how you feel.
Keeping a journal of your emotions is an amazing way to cope with overwhelming thoughts and pressure. Write down your thoughts and what is stressing you out. After you write down your immediate feelings, take those negative thoughts and write a positive counterpart; what is a way you can change how you are feeling? How can you pacify that situation? For example, if you are overwhelmed with finding ways to balance school and social life, acknowledge that stress, but then find ways to help that situation. Maybe creating a schedule of when you will take time for academics and when you will take time for friends. Writing these thoughts down is a great way to help visualize positive outcomes rather than letting these worries fill up your headspace.
Take care of your body.
The first thing to do in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress is to keep your body healthy. Depending on what you are feeling, your body may need different kinds of TLC. College life stress? Make a list of things you want to eventually get done (even if it’s just doing the laundry or taking a shower). Take time for yourself, journal, listen to music, do things that you enjoy doing to put yourself into a calmer headspace. If what you are feeling is more related to academic stress, then focus on strategies tailored to those situations. Just as I said before, writing will be your best friend when it comes to dealing with stress. Work on creating short-term goals to get your thoughts organized (long-term goals are also good for motivation, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have one). Designate time for yourself, your work, and your friends. Finding a healthy balance is what will really benefit your mental health. But never forget the basic needs of your body. Drink plenty of water (it is said that you should drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water a day). This will aid in flushing out all of the toxins from our bodies and maintaining a healthy digestive system. Try your best to get a good amount of sleep! It is recommended for the average college student to have around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Don’t let it ruin your momentum! Create a mantra.
It’s hard to pull yourself out of a mental fog and a loss of motivation. Acknowledging that is one of the first steps to gaining that momentum. We are all human, and we all have bad days (even weeks) but focusing time on your mental health and caring for yourself will help you get that ambition back. Create a mantra! When you feel yourself slowing down, create a saying that can motivate you. Even if it sounds crazy, having a mantra is a great way to help positively reinforce your work and mindset.
Go get ‘em girl! You got this! As Maya Angelou has said, “nothing can dim the light that shines from within!”
Mental Health in Women
Unlonely Project (College Students and Mental Health)
How to Deal/Calm Your Anxiety
How Much Water You Should Drink!
How Much Sleep Do I Need?