Stress management tips

© Dr. Marna Zinatelli, Psychologist 1999

  •  Plan carefully - Even though there are many things in life we can't control, we can control how we choose to spend our time. If you take the time to decide what's important and allocate time for it by using a good planner, you will be less likely to feel rushed and stressed.
  • Avoid trying to do too much - Even the best planner can't cram 48 hours of activity into a 24 hour day. This means that it's important to know what your priorities are and what's urgent so other things can be cut out or postponed.
  • Work at balancing study time with fun - Most students know that too much studying and too much fun both lead to problems. Knowing this doesn't always stop people from getting into trouble. It's best to start with a self-evaluation. If you decide that you are doing too much or too little of something, set goals to change gradually (e.g. set a goal of reducing your computer game playing time by 1 hour per week).
  • Make sure fun time is really fun - A common student pattern is to do something fun as a way of procrastinating and avoiding work. Most students find that this takes the fun out of the activity because they feel guilty and like they "should be studying". It's much more constructive to use rewards to pay yourself back after studying.
  • Take strategic breaks - A rule of thumb is 5 to 10 minutes of rest/reward time after 50 minutes of study time followed by a longer 2 to 3 hour break/reward at the end for a four hour work period.
  • Stay healthy and fit - Physical activity is important for managing stress. Minimizing caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs also reduces physical and psychological stress. If you don't have a healthy lifestyle, remember that gradual change is longer lasting so start small and build on each success.
  • Avoid cramming - Some students believe that if you wait until the last minute, it will only take a minute. Unfortunately, this is not true. If you pace yourself and study at a reasonable level right from the beginning of the term, you will not need to cram and you will avoid a lot of stress.
  • Develop a good support network - Everything is less stressful if you have people there to help and support you. Making and keeping friends can be hard, though especially if you are new to a school, a program or a class. Getting involved in a club or sport can help a lot.
  • Keep up or establish outside interests - Many people find that regular involvement in a hobby, club, sport or group activity provides a great way to relax, have fun, get away from the stress of school and connect with good friends.
  • Take advantage of resources available to you - Most colleges and universities have a wide range of student services to help you succeed. Ask your campus student federation or your faculty and/or department for information about these services.


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