Managing your time when you have lectures, exams, perhaps a part-time job coupled with a busy social life can be challenging. Sometimes you may neglect to eat well, exercise or pay attention to your health at all. Here are some tips designed to keep you on track to stay healthy and succeed!
- Get enough sleep
With insufficient sleep, you’re not going to be able to function well enough to get the most out of your classes. Keep to a regular sleeping pattern, align your sleeping schedule with normal resting hours and try to be in bed before midnight.
Try to exercise at least 3 times per week. This is known to reduce your stress levels. Try something that you enjoy doing, like walking, running, biking or swimming.
- Learn to relax
University students may experience a lot of stress from constant assignments and examinations, etc. You need to find some effective methods to cope with stress. When you feel stressed, deep breathing exercises can help you relax.
- Eat right
Even with a busy schedule, it is possible to make time for healthy meals. Have breakfast and don’t be too busy studying to grab lunch or dinner. Eating regularly will boost your brain power and keep you from giving in to unhealthy snacks and late night pizza deliveries.
- Avoid misusing alcohol
Some students rely on heavy drinking to unwind after a hard day of studying. However, excessive drinking can have serious effects to your health and can lead to alcoholism or more serious health problems.
Living and studying abroad will give you precious and life-changing experiences. At the same time, life in a foreign country can be very stressful due to the language barrier, financial hardships and various cultural adjustment issues (e.g., communication and interpersonal difficulties, trouble adopting to the customs of the host culture, lack of social support, isolation, homesickness, etc.). While confronted by numerous challenges, international students may experience persistent distress.
While a small amount of stress is a normal a part of life that can sometimes serve as a motivator, chronic overwhelming stress can lead to health problems including a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, a weak immune system, digestive problems, muscle tension and headaches. It can also negatively affect your psychological well-being, sometimes resulting in depression and anxiety.
To reduce the risk of stress-related health problems and stay healthy, it is important to develop effective stress management strategies and a work-life balance. The following are some tips for stress management and finding a healthy work-life balance:
- Monitor your stress.
Stress affects us in different ways and people have different levels of tolerance to stress. It is important to learn how to recognize when the stress exceeds your tolerance threshold. Common warning signs of stress-overload include moodiness, irritability, agitation, depression, feeling overwhelmed, inability to concentrate or decide, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, chronic fatigue, pains, digestive problems, dizziness, frequent cold, shortness of breath, insomnia/hypersomnia, eating problems, substance abuse and social withdrawal. If you have multiple symptoms, you are approaching your tolerance level. To monitor your stress, it is also helpful to know the triggers that make you particularly vulnerable. Common sources of stress include major life changes, loss, trauma, overwork, illness, relationship difficulties, pessimism, perfectionism, intolerance to uncertainty and low self-esteem. Once you know the source of stress and warning signs, you can assess your stress level and do something about it.
- Know your limit and have your own priorities.
Supermen/superwomen do not exist in reality, so you need to set limits for yourself. If you are a perfectionist, it may be difficult to set limits, but you need to learn how to let go. If you are unassertive, you may end up taking on too many responsibilities and getting overloaded unless you learn how to say “no”. Sometimes, you may have to sacrifice something to achieve something else. The key to maintaining healthy boundaries is to stick to your own priorities and ask yourself how effective or happy you feel in the way you are spending your time and energy. Remember, there is no point in sacrificing your health, relationships and family. Decide what you are willing to accept and where to draw the line.
- Take care of yourself.
People use different coping strategies when under stress. Refrain from unhealthy coping strategies such as smoking, drinking and binge eating. Instead, there are many healthy activities you can choose to relax and enjoy. You may make time to listen to your favorite music, take a hot bath at the end of the day, enjoy a hobby, do yoga, or take a walk. When you overwork, you lose concentration and end up being ineffective in what you do. For example, it is OK to take time from the lab to do something you love or have a vacation to revitalize yourself. Your mental and physical health is worth your time. Make time to follow a healthy diet that gives you essential nutrients to boost your immune system. Also, make time to exercise regularly, which relaxes your muscles and helps you sleep better.
- Stop and smell the roses.
Student life can be very busy, yet it is important to occasionally slow down and appreciate the small things. Allow yourself to notice and appreciate the flowers and trees on campus or enjoy moments of small victories. For instance, when you were finally able to correctly set up an experimental system, or you learned how to use a Japanese phrase. Make time to reward yourself for your hard work. If you know how to appreciate yourself and be respectful of your own needs, it is much easier for you to be appreciative of your surroundings. Taking these small moments will help you become self-content and will enrich your life.
Having a work-life balance is about balancing your work and personal life so that you are living your life in a way that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. If you have an optimal work-life balance, you will feel good about how you spend your time and naturally nurture the things important to you. If you feel you are having problems with managing stress why not talk to our professional counselor about it?