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Your February mentor tip: Manage your stress for academic success

‘A few small changes can go a long way,’ says undergrad student and mentor Camila Grove
February 20, 2020
By Camila Grove and Antonia Macris

Antonia Macris

Student life is difficult. Many students struggle to manage the stress that comes with balancing their studies with their work, social needs and general day-to-day lives.

Whether related to your academics or your personal life, it is important to be attentive to the way your stress presents itself and aware of what is causing it.

Understanding your stress is the first step to dealing with it in a healthy and productive way. Let’s look at some ways to take action and relieve some of that unnecessary student stress to help you perform better in university!

Understanding your stress

A key step to stress management is self-awareness. Start to take note of the signs or symptoms of your stress. These symptoms can be physical, mental, emotional or behavioural. For example, maybe you are having trouble falling asleep, or perhaps you are frustrated and the little things are bothering you more than usual.

Your body gives you these signals for a reason. When you experience them, take a moment to try to identify the triggers. Ask yourself: why am I feeling this way? What is the cause?

Using self-care to manage stress

Many people may feel that stress is a motivator, which can be true to an extent. Excessive and prolonged stress can lead to burnout, which is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion. Burnout is the worst-case scenario, where it becomes seemingly impossible to accomplish anything because your stress has gotten the better of you.

To help prevent this, it is important to incorporate effective stress management strategies in your everyday student routine and to make time for self-care.

Self-care is one of the ways we can help manage stress. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean going home after class and eating a pint of ice cream while watching three hours of Netflix. While it is important to make time for yourself and enjoy some relaxation, self-care is about making healthy choices a part of your daily life so that you can stay refreshed and motivated!

I know that as students — with days packed full of classes, studying, group work and part-time jobs — it is hard to envision time to practice self-care. But trust me, just a few small changes can go a long way when it comes to reducing stress.

Here are the three main components of self-care and a few examples to help you adjust to them easily:

1. Physical: One way to improve or maintain your physical health is by creating healthy habits, patterns and routines — and sticking to them! It can be as simple as staying hydrated, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or going to bed at the same time every night. These little changes will help to give your body the energy it needs for a productive day.

You can always meet with a Concordia health promotion specialist to develop routines that work for you, or check out fitness classes offered at Concordia to stay active!

2. Spiritual: This component is less about religion and more about feeling connected with the world around you. While many students connect to spirituality through their religious faith, another way to do this is by doing more outdoor activities and reconnecting with nature and the world around you.

You can always join an excursion with the Concordia Outdoors Club or join an Explore Montreal Walking Tour with the International Students Office, this spring. You can also attend upcoming events with the Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre.

3. Emotional: Make time to address your emotions. The more you run away from your feelings, the more they can drain your energy and ability to succeed in life.

Nurture healthy relationships. Don’t let other people’s stress and negativity add to yours! Know what you can handle and learn to say no to what you can't. Set reasonable boundaries in your relationships and interactions.

And of course, stay positive. Don’t let negative thoughts take over. The more you adopt positive thinking, the more easily you can avoid negative stressors.

Ultimately, university is your chance to pursue your interests and learn more about subjects that fascinate you, all while developing and challenging yourself. Some stress is inevitable when it comes to student life, but don’t let it jeopardize your experience as a Concordian.

Take notice of your stress symptoms and take action! Take the opportunity to attend a variety of events and workshops offered on campus throughout the months of February, March and April. These are also a great way to meet other students! And remember, stress is a reality, but you can manage!

Need help finding strategies that work for you? Check out Concordia’s Stressed? You can manage, we can help! resource.

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