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How Students Can Combat Stress, Depression, and Anxiety

How Students Can Combat Stress, Depression, and Anxiety

As the first term of the school year comes to a close, and with finals on the horizon, many students are facing burnout and excessive levels of stress. This, in turn, can also trigger elevated levels of anxiety and depression, because let’s face it: crunch time at school is never easy.

Many people don’t realize that there are physical side effects associated with stress, depression, and anxiety. The physical implications of these overwhelming feelings include, but are not limited to: headaches, stomach pains, anger, irritability, and changes in blood pressure, appetite, sex drive, and sleeping patterns.

In order to excel at educational endeavors, students must not sink into stress and other cognitive conditions. They must figure out ways of coping with and addressing roadblocks to scholastic success. It’s not always easy, but there are many ways to swim back to the surface!

1. Practical Stress Management Techniques

School and stress oftentimes go hand and hand, especially around tests and final exams. Fortunately, there’re a plethora of ways to take stress ‘by the horns’. Meditation, exercise, seeking tutoring and pursuing creative endeavors are all fantastic ways to reset and brush off stress.

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2. Meditating To Clear Your Busy Brain

An article by Grade Potential Tutoring highlights an approachable meditation technique that will aid in melting away stress for students of any age.

  • Sit in a comfortable position and focus your attention on your breathing.
  • Count each breath. Breathe in, breathe out, one, breathe in, breathe out, two, etc.
  • Continue until you reach ten and then start again.
  • If you lose count, go back to one.
  • If you have any thoughts or become aware of outside noises, acknowledge them, then let them go and return to your meditation.
  • Continue the exercise for five to fifteen minutes.

As you become more practiced in this meditation, you may wish to do it for longer periods of time and focus on the feel of your breath as it enters and leaves your body.

Other forms of meditation can also be helpful with stress management. There are many guides on meditation in previous Lifehack articles. These include meditation tipstechniques, and suggestions on meditation apps to help clear your head.

3. A Boost of Endorphins Can Defeat Stress

Sometimes the best way to work through stress is to distract your body and mind in a healthy way. Whether you’re casually burning calories or dedicated to a routine at a gym, getting your blood pumping helps alleviate stress.

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Personally, my favorite way to experience positive emotions associated with elevated endorphins is to go on a long bicycle ride. I also enjoy hiking when weather permits.

But no matter what you’re doing to exercise, both your mind and body will thank you.

4. Tutors Are Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

Oftentimes, a particularly challenging course can get the best of students and stress is a corollary byproduct. This doesn’t mean that you’re any less intelligent for struggling, it just may require a little extra dedication in order to be successful.

If struggles become persistent, oftentimes a tutor can be a roadmap to navigating your success.

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5. Relocating Perpetuates Stress

A major stressor for students, especially college students and those studying abroad, is moving. Whether moving to a dorm at your hometown university or relocating across the world, it’s usually undeniably stressful.

An article by Life Storage, titled 5 Essential Tips for a Less Stressful Move offers these crucially important moving tips:

  • Prepare to be disorganized. You can’t move in a day, so slow down and move at a logical pace.
  • Pack a transition bag. Toiletries, medications, a few sets of clothes, and of course, important electronics and accessories should be packed separately.
  • Set aside move-in supplies. This includes items such as tools, cooking/cleaning supplies, a first aid kit, and bedding.
  • Declutter storage areas first. You want access to closets, cupboards, and dressers first thing!
  • Make a check-off list and schedule easy-to-forget moving tasks. Plan this a month or more in advance so that you won’t stress as much when moving day inevitably sneaks up on you.

6. Students Face Depression and Anxiety As Well

On top of feeling overwhelmed and stressed, many students also face depression and anxiety. Of the large number of students recently surveyed for the National College Health Assessment, 33% were severely depressed and 55% were overwhelming anxious.

Mental illnesses are still frequently encapsulated by heavy, unwarranted stigmas. So learning to live with these type of cognitive conditions can be a huge challenge, especially when bullying or unfair pressures are persistent.

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All of the above-mentioned techniques for managing stress segue into treating depression, anxiety, and other mental illness. But it’s important to mention that counseling and/or medications may be necessary to live more comfortably with depression and anxiety.

The best starting point is consulting family and close friends you trust for help and guidance; then seeking help and support from counselors or other professionals becomes much more comfortable.

Remember that approaching depression and anxiety starts by getting support from those you trust and is built up by counseling, medications, or a combination of the two.

If seeking counsel is difficult due to insurance issues or other limitations, many universities offer counseling services at a sliding scale payment. This means you pay what you can afford because your seeking help is mutually beneficial to graduate students in this line of work, and of course, yourself!

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Robert Parmer

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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