A healthy amount of stress is always going to be in your life. However, sometimes we’re programmed to think it’s normal to be extremely stressed all the time. We equate being busy and stressed out with success. We all go through stressful bouts and chapters of life.  But stress, especially chronic stress, can weigh you down and make you sick from the inside out, affecting your physical and mental health. College is busy. At any given minute, you’re likely being pulled a few different ways by various commitments. The AIS reported that eight out of ten college students experience frequent stress. Here are 5 stress management tips for college students to make the weight a little easier to carry and to keep you healthy. 

1. Exercise regularly.

When you’re stressed out and tired, getting your workout in is often the last thing you want to do. But exercising is proven to reduce stress long after the workout is done. Mix in both cardio and resistance training to get the best of these benefits, both immediately and in the long term.

2. Learn to say no. 

If you’re a people pleaser, you’re familiar with the whole new level of stress this brings. Honor your commitments, but learn to be honest with yourself and  evaluate extra asks from people. If you truly don’t want to do something that’s being asked of you, don’t. This skill is uncomfortable at first, but putting yourself first gives back some control over your own stress. 

3. Make time for your passions. 

With school, work and other commitments, things we look forward to doing sometimes lose their importance when we’re prioritizing. However, taking some time every day or week to do something you’re passionate about is a powerful mental health tool. It gives you energy, boosts your mood and lowers your stress levels. Go to your favorite workout class, find a club team to play a sport you love, or pet the dogs at the local animal shelter on weekends. Whatever you’re passionate about deserves to be in your schedule, so make it a habit in order to effectively manage stress.

4. Develop an acceptance mindset.

It can be hard to relinquish control and to realize that sometimes things won’t go our way. But holding on to things like this is causing excessive stress even if you don’t realize it. You can try starting meditation to train your brain to think like this. In meditation, you simply recognize thoughts when they appear, and you don’t judge them as good or bad. Similarly, in life, it’s not about what happens to us. It’s about how we react, and that is something we can control. Marcus Aurelius, author of Meditations, said, “You have power over your mind – not outside events.” Once you master this, you are extremely powerful in controlling stress, not letting it control you.

5. Take a 10-minute walk to temporarily manage stress.

Experts say a brief walk can temporarily reduce stress in the body. This can be a tool to use when you start to feel the effects of stress. Maybe you’ve been working on the same homework problem for an hour, or you’re in the middle of a busy eight-hour shift at work. When you can fit it in those moments, taking a short walk is a great way to reset and improve the mental fatigue that comes with stress. 

As a college student, you can’t control the stress that comes your way, but you can control your stress management techniques. And that can make or break your physical wellness, mental health and overall college experience.