Eight Steps to a Low-Stress College Experience

College classes can undoubtedly be stressful and intense – but you don’t need to panic, pull all-nighters, and pop energy drinks to get through a semester at college. With the right time management skills, on-campus resources, and a little help from your friends, you can pass your classes with less stress and anxiety.

Here are simple tips to keep your stress down and your grades up.

  1. Create study groups. Partnering with classmates can help you review material more quickly and efficiently. Use your combined brainpower to tackle the hardest topics and questions.
  2. Take study breaks. If you’re feeling pressure before an exam or due date, a little bit of relaxation can actually help. Breaks are essential to keeping your focus and preventing burnout. MIT suggests studying for 50 minutes and then recharging for ten minutes by chatting, checking your email, going for a walk, stretching, or drinking some water. Physical movement is the best refresher, even if it’s just standing up and stretching.
  3. Learn about your school’s free resources. Almost every college and university offers free tutoring services. Campus libraries offer far more than books, too: there may be a comprehensive guide to study materials for your course, plus subscriptions to magazines, academic journals, databases, and online resources.
  4. Make sure you’re getting quality food and sleep. Eating a reasonably balanced diet – not just coffee and instant noodles – can help you avoid the physical effects of stress. And that’s even more true of a good night’s sleep, which has the added benefit of helping your brain retain new knowledge. Some research even suggests that your best choice the night before a big test is to get extra sleep rather than spending extra time studying.
  5. Talk to your professors. Don’t be afraid to approach your teachers after class – most faculty are very happy to help you understand the information you need to succeed. All instructors keep office hours, and most make themselves available by email, too. Some may even hand out their cell phone numbers. Many professors even say they wish more students would talk to them.
  6. Divide your workload into smaller parts. When you’re thinking about the challenges ahead, ignore the big picture and focus on each task in turn. Create a checklist and cross off each item as it’s finished, or create incentives for completing each step. Working on one assignment at a time can help you manage your time more wisely.
  7. There’s an app for that. Smartphones and tablets offer flashcard apps, language learning games, and other study tools. Educational apps and games can be a great way to spend your free time brushing up on your knowledge.
  8. Ask for help. If you’re experiencing long-term anxiety or need more help with your stress level, check to see if your college offers free counseling services or referrals to mental health professionals.

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