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Three steps to reducing stress for college students

February 14, 2013

by Lori Hanson

College students are stressed out under the load of tasks and activities they are expected to carry. I recently met a college student who rattled off a list of committees and organizations he is running or participating on. I asked when he slowed down and he looked at me like that thought hadn’t even occurred to him.


Whether you are a college athlete, in a fraternity or sorority, a student government officer or working and going to school, the load of your schedule can quickly become overwhelming. And when overwhelming hits, it can lead to the “Why am I here,” or “What am I supposed to be doing now?” brain burnout.

Add to that level of stress the need to fit in, be cool and confident and without realizing it, you might be headed down a destructive path. Too much partying, too many drugs, alcohol abuse, cutting and eating disorders. These can lead you down the path of depression and for some suicide. All of the social pressure builds up until you need an outlet.

In some respects college students are great about being in the moment. But if you don’t take time to contemplate the results of your actions, it could result in a decision that leads to tragic and/or life-changing results. Whether from a car accident, pregnancy or suffering the long-term effects of abuse.

Whenever I give a program on a college campus or at a conference for college students, the room is packed with students looking for more balance and how to relieve the stress.

Here’s three steps you can use to deal with stress pro-actively:

1. Examine Your Attitude
What is your attitude toward college and the schedule you keep? Are you constantly overwhelmed and telling yourself you’ll never get it done or “can’t” make it? You have a choice—if you look for ways to make it easier, you will find them. Shift your attitude to look for the good things, the cool things, the blessings in each and every day. Know that you can do everything you have committed to doing. Be thankful for the opportunity you have to be in college and prepare yourself for your future career.

2. Practice Moments of Silence
Today’s college students are always “on.” Because of technology, no one allows themselves to have a peaceful moment. Every activity is distracted by the phone with text messages, your computer or iPad or tablet. There is an expectation to be available 24×7.  Turn your phone and computer off for 30-minutes a day. Give yourself time to breath without being constantly distracted. Focus on something peaceful and take some deep breaths.

3. Practice saying NO
One of the biggest issues for getting overwhelmed is over commitment. Give yourself permission to say “No.” You cannot do everything, nor do you need to. Over commitment is a sign of low self-esteem. You don’t have to “do” to be valuable. Your value comes from your character, the person you are, the friend you become, the compassion you share with your fellow students.

You always have a choice. You have control over your thoughts and how you respond to things. Make the decision to reduce stress and live more peacefully. It’s a decision that many years from now, you’ll be glad you made.

For more help, check out the Stress Survival Kit™ for College Students


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