How to Manage Stress During the School Year

By Aislin Daugherty

With the school year in full swing, managing stress is more important now than ever. At a school as large as Ohio State, there are plenty of resources university-wide to keep stress levels down and serotonin levels up. This time of the year is crucial. Before midterms and finals arrive, it is important to identify healthy coping mechanisms in order to maintain them throughout the most overwhelming times of the year.

1. Identify the Stressor

Locating the primary root of stress is arguably the most important step in overcoming that stress. Stress can come from anywhere: schoolwork, internships, part-time jobs, social obligations, family, dorm life, and more. In students, these stressors most commonly present themselves as insomnia or over-sleeping, disordered eating, excessive drinking, social withdrawal, and mood changes, among many other symptoms.

2. Limit Social Pressures

We are currently living in the age of technology. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Reddit, among numerous other social media platforms, can sometimes seem like a chore to check throughout the day. However harmless they may seem, there is no denial that these apps have negative effects on mental health. Worrying about Instagram followers or envying influencers should be the last thing causing stress, but often social media is one of the primary things that precipitates stress in our lives. Limiting social media use is an effective opening step in learning how to better manage overwhelming situations.

3. Stay Physically Active

A myriad of sources address the direct correlation between healthy physical and mental health. The United States Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reinforces that physical activity improves brain health and cognitive function and releases chemicals that improve mood and increase energy levels. Before the weather turns, a great option to stay physically and mentally active is to go for a run or walk around campus. When the cold weather comes, however, the RPAC’s indoor track is a perfect alternative. You can also check out the RPAC, the North Rec Center, Jesse Owens North, Jesse Owens South, or the Aquatic Center for free weights, strength training, cardio machines, and courts to enjoy your favorite way to stay active. Group fitness classes on or off-campus are also a great option to destress with friends while doing yoga, spin, pilates, and more!

Rec Sports marketing photo session at the RPAC Monday October 18, 2021. (Jim Bowling – The Ohio State University Office of Student Life)

4. Eat Balanced Meals

On top of staying physically active, your mental health is also dependent on what you eat. There are certain foods rich in vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acid, or magnesium that have been proven to reduce cortisol levels, including chicken, eggs, avocados, salmon, broccoli, and spinach. Additionally, it is best to avoid consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, soda, and sugar to prevent crashing and increased stress levels. There are plenty of options near or on Ohio State’s campus to find balanced meals. On campus, the Union Market and Traditions at Scott have salad bar and grain bowl stations, Traditions and Kennedy and the Marketplace on Neil offer salad bars, and Juice 2 and Juice North have smoothie and bowl options for lighter fare. Off campus, some favorites include Roots, Playa Bowls, Brassica, and SOW Plated.

5. Practice Self-Care

When feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to take time to yourself. Relax, focus on deep breathing, and become one with yourself in order to tackle the stress. Effective self-care practices include doing a face mask, journaling, partaking in breathing exercises, watching a favorite show, and practicing gratitude and positive affirmations.

6. Utilize Your Resources at Ohio State

Ohio State offers multiple support sources for whatever help you may need. The Counseling and Consultation Services Office has student phone screenings, group counseling, mental health resources, grief counseling, workshops, and more to address stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other concerns students may face. CCS also offers individual and group Wellness Coaching at the Student Wellness Center specifically for stress management, balancing relationships, navigating transitions, and improving confidence.

Resources available at The Counseling and Consultation Services Office at Ohio State

No matter where you are in your academic, professional, or personal journey, discovering effective stress management mechanisms will aid you in all of your future endeavors. Practice implementing some of these tips into your daily routine to live a healthy, stress-free life at Ohio State!

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