Stressed? Yeah, I feel you…

At this point, we can all establish that college in general is challenging. An unending load of assignments from various classes, a part-time job (or an extracurricular–or both) that sucks up the rest of your hours, the fear of loans and failing grades (or if you’re like me, anything below an A), obnoxious roommates and/or rent payments, and irksome encounters with financial aid and human resources. Oftentimes, it feels like working two jobs at once, sometimes more. And to make matters worse, you constantly hear horror stories of nursing school–how it drives students to tears almost daily from shear stress and exhaustion and how your life will be reduced to eating, sleeping, and breathing nursing concepts and terms. 

While I haven’t reached nursing school just yet (I’m hoping to start in fall 2020), I am still well acquainted with stress and the astonishing effects it can have on one’s body.  For me personally, stress from college has caused irritable bowel syndrome, frequent tension headaches, major depressive episodes, and sleep disturbances. Once you become caught in the cycle of stress, it’s easy to burn out from it, and even if you don’t hit that point, you may notice its consequences for your lifestyle and, consequently, your body.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent stress. And in small amounts, stress can actually be beneficial–by pushing us to be extra cautious and diligent. However, there are ways to minimize your stress levels once they become too high or constant (which are both states that can lead to health problems), and though there is a medley of self-help articles on the Internet, I thought I would give you a list of methods I use to combat stress. 



  • Exercise – Yep, this is one that most people spout off about, but it really is the most effective. In addition to restoring or maintaining physical health, exercise stimulates the release of endorphins–those beautiful, beautiful “feel-good” hormones. Even if you are already tired and unmotivated, I promise you that adding some kind of physical activity, be it cardiovascular or muscle building, into your schedule will give you a boost for the rest of the day, help you sleep soundly, and give you a sense of confidence. And you don’t even have to commit much of your time to it! I lift weights about an hour a day for two to three days a week and aim for thirty minutes of high intensity cardio (running/sprints) or an hour of low intensity cardio (walking) for one or two days a week. This sounds like a lot, but if you’re determined and willing, you’ll find that it’s just what your body needs. But even if you can’t manage an hour, half an hour for a couple of days is enough, and at the end of the day, any amount of exercise is better than none at all.
    • Some examples
      • Walking ( to your car, up stairs, around the track, through town or your neighborhood, etc.). Whenever I can, I choose to walk places rather than drive and opt for the stairs rather than an elevator.
      • Running (both long distance, which is better for burning fat, and sprinting, which is better for fat loss and building and toning muscle). I do a bit of each, and I normally run trails in the woods near my dad’s house or the track at the Rec Center, but you should choose types and locations that are best for you individually.
      • Weight lifting (at home or at a gym). This one can intimidate some people, but by working out with an experienced friend or doing some research with YouTube, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you can do and even how much you may enjoy it. And for my female readers, you’re not going to become hulking masses of muscle by lifting weights. I can promise you that. In fact, you’ll appreciate adding on some more muscle, and it’s a gratifying feeling to outlift some of the guys yet still be smaller than them. But beware: you may find that you prefer this to cardio, but don’t cut that out!
      • Swimming. Now, social swimming is also an option here, but if you’re looking to reduce stress and work your body, your swimming should cause some amount of strain (e.g., heavy breathing and tiredness). Try different styles, including breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle, either at home or at your gym’s pool. 


And many, many others! Try researching some other options if the ones above don’t fit with you.



  • Mindfulness Training – This one sounds obvious, yet many of us don’t really give it a chance. However, this one is right next to exercise when it comes to significant stress reduction. There are several exercises that you could try for this, but if you have the time, Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga are three of the best options for instilling mindfulness in yourself each week. If you plan to do yoga or Tai Chi, I recommend at least twice a week, and keep in mind that CSU’s Rec Center offers free yoga courses each week–just ask the people at the front desk or take a look at postings around the Center. There are also multiple fitness centers around Columbus that have formal yoga classes, including River Flow Yoga and Wellness, and The UP! Factory; however, those do cost money. You could also find yoga classes held for free or at low prices at some local churches. As for meditation, there are short videos on YouTube that give you the gist of how to perform it, and you could choose to do it for five to ten minutes (or twenty, if you’re feeling extra in need of it) each day or really whenever you can. 


Recently, I took yoga classes at the Rec Center for my PEDS requirement, and though I didn’t expect myself to enjoy it initially, I have fallen in love with yoga and the calming, almost medicinal, effects it can have on the mind and body. I fervently recommend it, and even if you can’t take classes at the gym or a fitness center, you can do yoga poses at home with the help of YouTube videos. 

And even if you don’t feel that you can take 30-minute- or hour-long classes, even taking the time to notice simple things around you and focusing on those things only in the moment is enough. For example, I watched a chipmunk clamber atop a log one evening, and instead of letting my mind wander to the appointments and tasks of the week, I noted the details of this seemingly trivial scene–the banded patterning of the chipmunk’s body, the nervous flicks of its head, the contrast of its light brown fur against the darker wood. And in that moment, I let my stressors go and savored the time I had.



  • Music – If you’re like me, you listen to music at your emotional highs and lows, to make essay writing or driving less mind-numbingly dull, to complement a workout, or even to further immerse yourself when you’re reading. For something new, if you’re used to certain genres, try experimenting with some others, or at the very least, give other bands within your preferred genres a chance. I listen to music from every genre, but I usually match different songs and bands with my mood. However, my favorite choices for stressful times are Indie rock and pop as well as lo-fi. If you haven’t heard any songs or tracks from these, you can find examples on YouTube. Lo-fi can range from cheerful and upbeat, to neutral and serene, to somber and reflective, but you can also find some tracks that are made specially for studying. As for indie, if you’re willing to give it a shot, some of the bands that I normally listen to are Glass Animals, Arctic Monkeys, Caravan Palace, Two Door Cinema Club, San Fermin, Cage the Elephant, and Beirut




  • Spending time with loved ones – This is one that even I tend to shove into the farthest corners of my mind. “I don’t have time to spend with other people. I have assignments and projects I need to work on,” I rationalize. But guess what? Sometimes, seeing a dear friend, family member, or even a pet is a much-needed dose of reality: your world isn’t restricted to just school. With constant deadlines and high expectations, we as students consistently forget that we are primarily social animals, that we not only secretly crave but need occasional (or frequent, depending on your personality) social interactions. So, if you find that you’re isolating yourself and attempting to defend your hermit-like behaviors with your workload, you probably need to take some time away from your work and spend it with someone (or something) you’re close with, be it somewhere in town or in your own home. While human contact is necessary at some point, sometimes, I even find that setting aside some time to watch or interact with my turtles is sufficient.




  • Indulge in your creative side – Oh, yes. Remember doing crafts as a child? Remember the pride and joy that accompanied them? Well, this doesn’t go away in adulthood. Even if you don’t find yourself a craft person, coloring in adult coloring books (or children’s if those are more of your taste), drawing or painting, cooking or baking, playing or learning to play an instrument, learning a new language (such as on Duolingo), and writing are all sources of creative indulgence that not only serve as tools for self-growth but also lessen stress and boost feelings of satisfaction and confidence.



Hopefully, I was able to share with you a new healthy outlet for stress, but if not, feel free to conduct a few quick Internet searches! There are many who are more creative than I am, and you may find just what you need to sail you through college and through nursing school. 



And nursing students unite!