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"Workforce Education has been there for me since day one!" - Jenny S, Green River student

Jan 25, 2011

De-Stress Yourself

Stress is a stubborn fact of life, especially if you're a college student.  Exams, papers, and pop quizzes come at us from all directions, testing our limits, testing our sanity.  And then there are the responsibilities we have outside of the classroom that already make life complicated - holding a job, paying the bills, getting the kids to school, tending relationships with family and friends.  On and on it goes.  What is more, many are coping with the realities of losing a job or living at the poverty level.  These are, after all, tough economic times.  Things compound pretty quickly.  It's easy to stress out.
While stress is a fact of life, and while people deal with stress in different ways, there are some common steps we can take to minimize its effect on our lives.  Are you stressed?  If so, here are 6 simple coping strategies courtesy of Managed Health Network, Inc.  The following strategies are straightfoward and common-sensical, but their simplicity and effectiveness can't be "stressed" enough.

1.  Lead a balanced life.

Easier said then done, right?  Leading a balanced life is the key to it all.  You're a college student and you have tons of responsibility outside of the classroom, but try to allow time for leisure, hobbies, or family activities.  Find time to clear your head.  Budget some fun into your schedule.

2.  Eat well and try to exercise. 

Another no-brainer but important nonetheless.  Drink more water.  Eat healthy.  Need help buying healthy foods? Apply for Basic Food Assistance at foodhelp.wa.gov.  Try to exercise too.  Don't worry - this doesn't mean you have to train for a marathon.  But look into using the fitness center or the weight room on campus at GRCC (it has open hours for all students and staff most weekdays).  If you can't make time for formal exercise, build more physical activity into your schedule by walking more and using stairs instead of elevators.  Take deep breaths frequently throughout your day.  If possible, don't resort to quick fix coping mechanisms like smoking or heavy drinking. 

3.  Manage your time. 

Make to-do lists and stick to them.  Set priorities.  Formulate small, attainable goals.  Give yourself something to aim at.  Take the big tasks and break them down into smaller bitesize tasks.  Don't cram, plan ahead.

4.  Keep a sense of humor.

It's been established scientifically that laughter is good for you and can even help you deal with stress.  It can be difficult to maintain a sense of humor in stressful situations.  Like balance, this is easier said then done.  But carve out opportunities for laughter maybe by watching a comedy or connecting with friends, whatever allows you to cut loose.

5.  Take a break.

Speaking of cutting loose, take a break.  Working on end without taking a break may seem like a short-term solution, but it isn't sustainable in the long-term and will inevitably lead to burn-out.  Take a day off or a time out. Walk around the block, go on a hike, take a power nap.  Whatever works.

6.  Recognize what you can and can't control.

We all know the familiar chant about accepting what you can't control, finding courage to change the things you can, and having wisdom to know the difference.  This piece of advice is along the same lines and sums up strategies 1 through 5.