Stress: How to Deal with It


Posted by Chris Zhang

August 07, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Stress College Life Guide

Whether you’re a genius or you’re in your senior year and already have a job lined up, you will feel stressed at some point in your college career. Honestly speaking, you probably will feel stressed multiple times throughout your college career. But feeling stressed isn’t a bad thing. Diamonds are formed under pressure, but to be that diamond, you can’t crack under the pressure: you need to manage your stress effectively. These are some stress-management tips to help manage your stress effectively.

#1. Don’t Study Too Much

For all my fellow Econ majors out there, you’ll know something called diminishing marginal returns. For those that don’t know, think of these two options:

  • You can pull an all-nighter the night before the test and study for an additional 8 hours.
  • You can split those 8 additional hours into 4 two-hour time blocks that you’ll study sometime during the weekend.

Which one would you choose? I know the second option is brutal because many students reserve their weekend for having fun and clearing their mind, but the second option is superior to the first option in terms of productivity. Think about it, do you really think that 7th hour in your study session will be all that productive? Your brain can only handle so much, and at a certain point, the quality of your studying/work will decline. This is diminishing marginal returns: at a certain point, your marginal productivity will start to decrease. When encountered with a lot of work, you should still put in the time to study and do work, but it’s important to make a good schedule that includes regular breaks.

#2. Get Enough Sleep

Say you do write yourself a good schedule, and you’ve already studied a lot. It’s approaching midnight, but you still want to study more because you’re not confident. Is it worth it to stay up and study? Most of the times, no, it isn’t. Trust me, I’ve had weeks where I have two consecutive days of exams, and I only sleep 5-6 hours. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will only run on energy boosters, and it isn’t sustainable. Not to mention, you’ll reach a certain point where those energy boosters aren’t effective anymore, and you start falling asleep while you study.

Shortening the amount you sleep can increase your stress level in addition to not being able to fully focus because you’re so sleepy. In addition, insufficient sleep can put you at risk for serious illnesses like diabetes, obesity, and depression. It’s important to have a stable sleep schedule in college, regardless of whether it is a crunch week or not.

#3. Avoid Energy Boosters as Much as Possible

To be honest, many college students will use energy boosters, and it’s so ingrained in college life, that it’s almost impossible to not rely on it at one point or another. The key is to ration your use. You don’t want to get to the point where you are reliant on energy boosters. I have a friend who drinks at least 5-6 cups of coffee a day, and not only does it kill his bank account, but he also relies on coffee to get any work done.

Something that I have done is to only drink coffee, Redbull, Monster, or whatever energy booster if I’m low on energy during a crunch week. There have been times where I have gone overboard on relying on energy boosters as mentioned previously, and I felt really jittery, stressed, and ended up rushing through all my work/studying. 1 or 2 drinks every now and then won’t kill you but relying on it excessively will only increase stress.

#4. Don’t Skip Meals and Eat Well

The most popular form in college of skipping meals is skipping breakfast. Skipping breakfast comes in all shapes and sizes. You want that extra studying time in the morning so you skip breakfast. You want more sleep since you were studying late last night so you skip breakfast. You think that apple that you have in your room is good enough so you skip breakfast. Skipping meals is a popular strategy employed by college students, but it only leads to you being de-energized, leading to a lower threshold for stress.

Note: A Dominoes delivery or whatever snack you can find in the vending machine isn’t going to be an effective meal. Unfortunately, even in college, you have to eat your vegetables. You should follow a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

#5. Take Time to Enjoy Yourself

Don’t give up your passions. Exercise. Relax with friends. You get through crunch weeks through those times of enjoyment and relaxation. Going out to eat, going for a walk, or watching a movie during a crunch week with some friends may seem silly, but it’s important to relieve your stress. I like to deal with crunch weeks by having something to look forward to at the end. At the end of this study session, I’ll go get some ice cream, or at the end of this crunch week, I’ll have a barbecue. It doesn’t matter what you do or when you have these pastimes: taking these pastimes will relieve stress and make crunch weeks much more bearable.

Note: Many college students relieve stress through partying or drinking. This seems like a good way to relieve stress but drinking actually increases feelings of stress and anxiety. That’s not to say that you should ignore going out and having fun but make sure you aren’t drinking excessively and relying on drinking as a way to relieve stress.

Next Steps

Crunch week and stress can get the better of many students, but it’s important to realize that just because a crunch week is approaching, you don’t have to make sacrifices in your life and daily routine. Applying the right strategies will help you reduce stress and make those four years fly by!

Are you in high school and feeling stressed about the college application process? One reason for that stress is the SATs or ACTs. Check out Prepmedians. We teach SAT/ACT test prep through sketch comedy and music so even in such a stressful time like the college application process, you’ll be able to laugh. We also divide our lessons into 15-20 minute blocks so it’s easier to schedule test prep time.

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Posted by Chris Zhang

Chris scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and is currently studying Economics and Data Science at Colby College. Fun Fact: The only movie he ever cried in was Fast and Furious 7.