For some of you, exams are coming up – the most stressful time in a student’s life. For those of you who aren’t in school, this guest post by Brian Jenkins still has great value. Because as we all know, life doesn’t get any less stressful after graduation!
Unfortunately, both the stress and the fun of the college experience provide numerous opportunities to develop unhealthy behavior patterns such as overeating at cafeterias, indulging on late night snacks, drinking energy drinks loaded with caffeine and calories and consuming too much alcohol. What can college students do to stay healthy and reduce stress? Let’s take a look at some tips:
Some experts report stress is the #1 trigger of ailments in peoples’ physical, emotional and endocrinal systems. Practicing yoga is a great way to reduce stress. Yoga counteracts the effects of stress in several ways, including by altering the biochemical responses of the body. It can help students sleep better and overcome stress-induced eating. Studies show that yoga practitioners learn more, improve their memories and get higher grades.
Many college students do Yoga to release stress and anxiety while strengthening the body and relaxing the mind. Yoga provides a sense of balance and mental clarity. Also, some colleges offer yoga group classes, which are great activities for a group of friends.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
During transcendental meditation, the brain functions with substantially greater coherence and the body gains deep rest. The state of restful alertness brought about by transcendental meditation dissolves stress and fatigue and promotes a balanced functioning of mind and body.
Scientific research has shown that TM provides a wide array of health benefits. Over 600 scientific research studies have confirmed the benefits of TM for mind, body, behavior and society as a whole.
David Haaga, Ph.D., professor of Psychology at American University in Washington D.C., stated, “The Transcendental Meditation Program, a widely-used standardized program to reduce stress, showed significant decreases in blood pressure and improved mental health in young adults at risk for hypertension.” The study, performed by American University researchers, was based on university students.
College students’ diets should should have a balance of vegetarian proteins or lean meats, high fiber carbohydrates, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Late Night Snacks
College students often put on additional pounds due to their fondness for late night snacks. Unfortunately, during sleep, the body’s metabolism slows down, which causes much of those snacks to be stored as fat. Fred Turek, professor of neurobiology and physiology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, showed that adjusting the time people eat significantly affects body weight. Mice provided a high-fat diet during normal sleeping hours had a 48% weight increase over their baseline, whereas the mice provided the same diet during normal waking hours gained only 20% over their baseline. There was no statistical difference between the two groups of mice regarding calorie consumption or how active they were.
Caffeine Energy Drinks
Many college students rely on caffeine energy drinks to stay awake during late night study sessions. They make up a significant portion of the three billion dollar energy drink market.
According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, some energy drinks contain more than five times the amount contained in a can of cola and almost double the amount contained in a cup of brewed coffee. Energy drinks have been linked to nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.
Alcohol consumption is trendy at colleges. However, by drinking alcohol, college students reduce the amount of fat their body burns to make energy. Instead of being stored as fat, most of the alcohol is converted to a substance called acetate. When the body’s acetate levels rise the body burns more acetate and less fat.
With a little more effort and a little less giving into temptation, college students can greatly reduce stress and improve their overall health.
About the Author
I’d like to add time management to this list, so that students (and non-students alike) can schedule in both workouts and keep a fairly consistent sleep schedule to help manage stress. Do you have any stress-management advice to share?