Students may experience higher levels of stress due to a variety of factors. It’s important to learn how to manage stress and build resilience.
Stress management and resilience-building are particularly important to health. Here are several tips to help you cope from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) resources:
- Recognize stress and counter it. Your body sends signals that it’s stressed, including difficulty concentrating, headaches, cold hands, tight muscles, a nervous stomach, clenched teeth, feeling on edge, fidgety, irritable, or withdrawn. Knowing how your body communicates can help you deal with stressful moments. Learn to not only recognize but also to name these feelings, either to oneself or to a friend. Then, take action to counter their effects. For example, deep breathing, stretching, going for a walk, writing down your thoughts, and taking quiet time to focus can help induce relaxation and reduce tension.
- Take time for yourself. Make taking care of yourself a daily routine. It’s not selfish or self-indulgent — and it might require saying “no” to requests or prioritizing yourself along with your responsibilities. Start with small changes in your routine to help build resilience to stressful circumstances. Work in time to exercise, eat healthy foods, participate in relaxing activities and sleep. In fact, including a regimen of exercise, which for some may include yoga or meditation, can be very important when feeling stressed. Also, take time to notice the “good minutes” in each day or to do something that you enjoy, such as reading a book or listening to music, which can be a way to shift your attention and focus on the positive rather than the negative.
- Try new routines. From scheduling bath and bedtimes to blocking off time to plan and prioritize tasks, additional structure can provide a daily framework that allows you to attune to your body’s signals. Then, you can take steps to potentially manage stress earlier than you once did.
- Stay connected and make new friends. Stay in touch with family, friends, and groups in your life — technology makes this easier than ever. Having or being a person to talk with can be reassuring and calming. Using video features can enhance the connection in telecommunication or online communications for some people.
- See problems through a different lens. Experts call changing the way we think about and respond to stress “reframing.” View sitting in traffic or around the house as an opportunity to enjoy music, podcasts, or pleasant views. Reduce anger in response to rude or aggressive behavior by imagining what might be happening in that person’s life. Keeping situations in perspective is an important way to boost stress resilience. Other steps include positive thinking and creating plans before you begin to resolve problems. You can practice reframing and get better at it over time.
- Seek help with problems. Many people experience the same day-to-day strains related to caregiving, relationships, health, work, and money. Look to friends and family, as appropriate, or other trusted individuals or resources for tips and information.
- Talk to a health professional if stress is affecting your well-being or you feel you cannot manage the stress you’re experiencing or it’s causing you to engage in or increase substance use. Seek appropriate care if stress is harming your relationships or ability to work.
Recognizing individual signals of a body’s stress responses and learning to respond to those signals in new ways can help build the emotional, intellectual, and physical strength that comprise resilience, which can help you tackle future stressors.
This article is adapted from the National Institutes of Health resource, https://orwh.od.nih.gov/in-the-spotlight/all-articles/7-steps-manage-stress-and-build-resilience.