Studies show that college students learn less, and retain less, when they’re under stress. With ever-mounting pressure on today’s collegians to perform well academically, while signing on to a full slate of activities socially, stress has become a raging campus epidemic. The resulting anxiety can cause students to develop learning deficiencies, miss assignments, cut classes, underachieve, or drop out altogether.
And it hurts everyone: students, parents, faculty members, and universities. To help stressed out campus dwellers get their lives back under control, here are several student-centric stress-reducing strategies, excerpted from my new book “400 Ways to Stop Stress Now…and Forever!”
Work before play.
Leisure is better enjoyed when it follows a period of good hard work. But putting off work to have your fun first is another story. Rather than relieving stress, it can be a source of it. Because now you made a conscious decision to fall behind. And the prospect of neglected work to make up can erode your fun. Don’t let others lure you away from your appointed tasks, either. (Dereliction loves company.) Students are especially vulnerable to this. In the work/play cycle the effort should always come first, before the reward. Why make yourself crazy?
Study in shorter, more frequent intervals.
Whether it’s schoolwork or a career
training program…overnight cramming and marathon study sessions are less productive and the material more easily forgotten. Never let it get to that point. Study as you go along—in shorter, more frequent intervals. It will keep the information fresh in your mind so you won’t waste time relearning it. Review sessions will be faster and less tedious—thus, less likely to be put off. And you
Don’t let others waste your time.
Some people have no stress empathy. They see that you’re totally crazed (or do they?), yet needlessly interrupt you, get in your way, engage you in small talk, and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. These are often people you room with, or are close to, and don’t want to offend. Be polite, be diplomatic, but firmly convey the message you’re way too busy to schmooze. Seek commiseration: “Yo
u won’t believe how swamped I am.” Or look at your watch and exclaim: “Yikes! You’ll have to excuse me…” If these don’t work, simply ask them to help you with your work. That’s right. Ask for help. It will usually get rid of them, or even better, they just might pitch in. In any case, use your ingenuity and always have a good evasive tactic at the ready. Why make yourself crazy?
Don’t be driven to Internet distraction.
The Web can soak up precious time so insidiously you’re often not even aware of it. How easily a simple online task can end up taking an hour or more! Be smart. Devise your plan of attack before going on. And stick with it. Don’t be lured away by enticing links or allow yourself to drift about aimlessly. Log on, get what you want and get off. Make the Internet the efficient, timesaving tool it was meant to b
e, and save your surfing for your leisure hours. Why make yourself crazy?
Do what needs to be done first…first.
‘ll be assured of understanding the material long after the final exam. Which is entirely the point, isn’t it? Study as you go. You’ll study less…and retain more. Why make yourself crazy?
This should be automatic, but for many reasons, we’ll put off more important and pressing things to take care of lesser priorities first. Not only does it leave that bigger thing hanging over us, it often deprives us of the time and energy we’ll need to accomplish the important task. Every day, take a few moments to consider what project would make most sense to get out of the way first. Then meet it head on, without becoming sidetracked, without trying to squeeze something else in between. Then go on to the next most critical…and watch the stress ease away. Why make yourself crazy?