Not enough sleep. Cramming in studying. Feeling mounting pressure. Sound familiar?
Stress and college can go hand in hand, especially in an unusual year like this one. If you’re feeling the weight, it’s important to remember, you’re not alone. The stats on college students reveal an expanding crisis:
- Nearly 1 in 3 college-age adults have experienced a recent mental, behavioral or emotional health issue
- 8 in 10 say they experience frequent stress
- Nearly a third have been diagnosed with anxiety
- Roughly 1 in 4 have been diagnosed with depression
If you feel like you need help to reduce stress ahead of finals, here are five ideas to consider from UnitedHealthcare StudentResources:
- Map it out – Sometimes the simple act of organizing can be a stress reliever. Start by making a thorough list of what’s left this semester. Prioritize tasks, so you can tackle each one ahead of its deadline. Be realistic about what you can get done to avoid being overwhelmed and make a point to celebrate progress as you move through the list.
- Prioritize your zzz’s – While you might be tempted to pull a bunch of all-nighters, it may be more helpful to focus on sleep. Many experts say college students should get seven to nine hours of shuteye every night — and most don’t. Keeping a regular lights-out routine and allowing for at least seven hours of sleep per night may help you be more clear-eyed. (Pro tip: Turn off electronics at least 30 min. before bed to make it easier to fall asleep.)
- Eat and drink wisely – They say you are what you eat — so eat and drink to score well on tests. Your body and brain need fuel to achieve peak performance for test time. Build meals with lean proteins and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and remember to stay hydrated. Consider a refillable bottle to track how much you’re drinking each day — with plain water being the best choice. Most women need at least nine cups and most men need at least 13 to avoid symptoms of dehydration that can zap brainpower.
- Get moving – Try to work in short walks, bike rides or quick gym workouts between classes and studying. Exercise can help clear your head, and you’ll get benefits even if the work is in short bursts. Physical activity boosts endorphins, which may reduce stress and make you feel better. Bonus: It may also help with sleep and can be a great way to help shed extra pounds.
- Check your health plan for help – Consider taking advantage of mental health resources you may have with your health benefits. For instance, UnitedHealthcare StudentResources offers a 24/7 crisis line answered by licensed clinicians for support with mental health concerns. Eligible students also have unlimited access to virtual counseling services with board-certified psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counselors — at no additional cost.*
One more thing: Give yourself credit for realizing you may need a plan and be kind to yourself as you work to get through the rest of the school year.
*Most, but not all UHC SR plans have these products. Members can access uhcsr.com/myaccount to learn more about their benefits and services.