There is no question that school can be stressful. Learning new materials, regular assignment deadlines, tests, and projects can be challenging enough, but when you include extra-curricular activities and the competing demands of work and family obligations, it’s enough to overwhelm anyone. Lowering your stress level will help you feel better and can also improve your grades by allowing you to focus and concentrate on your studies. Here are a few tips to help you feel less stressed.
Get Some Exercise
It is well known that exercise is a great stress reliever, and it does not matter what type of exercise you engage in (Vlasik, 2013). Whether you are into running, cycling, tennis, yoga, swimming, or some other type of exercise, engaging in your favorite exercise activity will reduce stress and increase alertness. And you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of exercise – walking, gardening, mowing the lawn, or any type of physical activity that gets you out of your chair and away from your desk will help provide stress relief.
In many cases, stress is the result of too much to do in too little time. Deadlines all seem to show up at once, especially for online learners. You can avoid this problem by planning ahead. Use a calendar or electronic scheduling program to keep track of all the due dates for your assignments, tests, and other school projects. Include work deadlines and family obligations and then refer to your calendar daily to see what needs to be done today, tomorrow, this week, and this month. In addition to helping you avoid the stress of “crunch time,” by writing down the due dates of your school, work, and family obligations, you can stop worrying about them and focus on the tasks at hand.
Take a Mental Break
If you’ve been studying for hours and seem to be getting nowhere, you probably need a break. Maybe you are trying to write an essay but are experiencing “writer’s block,” or perhaps you have read the same section in the textbook two or three times and nothing seems to be sinking in. Take a break, and spend 30 minutes to an hour doing something totally unrelated to your schoolwork. Try a walk with the dog, working on your scrapbook, or playing a video game. Doing something you enjoy will take your mind off of your schoolwork, and you will return refreshed.
Get Some Rest
Sometimes it just makes sense to stay up a couple hours late to finish an assignment or get in an extra hour or two of study time for an upcoming test. However, don’t make a habit of cutting into your sleep time. Your body and your brain need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night to recover and recharge (Brody, 2013). Many times, you will find that a task that seemed almost insurmountable as you are working on it at midnight is much easier after getting a good night’s sleep. Use your calendar to help you schedule your online classes, family, and work obligations so that you can avoid those late night study sessions. You will work more efficiently and feel less stressed if you regularly get a full night’s sleep.
For online learners, a little bit of stress can be a good thing. Without it we could not face the challenge of learning new concepts and enjoying new experiences. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone from time to time can be a rewarding experience that results in personal growth and satisfaction. However, too much stress is unhealthy and detrimental to your well-being (The Mayo Clinic, n.d.). When you start feeling overwhelmed by your school, family, and work obligations, try a few of these stress relieving techniques. Lowering your stress level will not only make you feel better, but also help you perform better in school.
Written by: David Mackusick, JD, CPA David MacKusick is an Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University. He grew up in the Midwest and enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school. When his enlistment ended, he went to work for Northwest Airlines as an aircraft mechanic and, while working full time, went back to school and earned a degree in accounting at Clayton State University in Morrow, GA, and a law degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. During his legal career, he worked as a public defender, at the IRS, and in private practice handling tax cases and criminal defense primarily in federal court. MacKusick and his wife live in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where they enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mountain bike riding, and canoeing
References: Brody, J. (2013, June 24). Studies say 7-8 hours of sleep is needed for best health. Journal Sentinel Online. Retrieved from http://www.jsonline.com/features/health/studies-say-7-8-hours-of-sleep-is-needed-for-best-health-b9936714z1-212691521.html The Mayo Clinic (n.d.). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001 Vlasik, E. (2013, February 1). High anxiety! Ways to come back down to calmer ground. Exceptional Parent, 43 (2), 34-37.