The Foolproof Guide to Avoiding Back to School Stress

School can be a stressful time for me. Between adjusting to the homework, the cost of school supplies, the busy flurry of extracurricular activities and the long lecture-style classes, it’s hard to find time to just sit and breathe during the back-to-school season. It turns out that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

New York University recently completed a study that concluded that many students fall victim to high levels of stress during the school year. Half of the students surveyed reported being under a “great deal” of stress, which led to several other physical and mental issues. One of the greatest sources of anxiety? Preparing for college and going back to school. Such stress can prevent students from succeeding academically and can not only lead to students compromising their mental health but also to long-term, serious problems.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way! There are many ways for students to reduce stress levels without feeling like they are going to freak out. So what can you do to relax? These are the eight best ways to avoid the stress of back to school.

1. Exercise.

Over the years, I’ve found that if I work out for at least 30 minutes a day I will feel much better afterward. Sure, I might be annoyed by all of the sweat that just ruined my workout clothes, but I will also feel happy that I took time out of my day to take care of myself. Don’t sweat it, forget it.

2. Go outside.

I know spending time in nature isn’t for everyone, but it can really help to calm you down if you are feeling overwhelmed. There is something about the beauty of nature that always makes me feel calm. I mean, after spending all day in hot, overcrowded classrooms, it’s nice to get away and just breathe some fresh air. It almost makes it feel as if summer is still here. If your campus has a lawn for sitting, perfect. Pop a squat.

3. Get more sleep.

Studies have shown that those who get at least six hours of sleep overnight tend to feel more energized and ready to take on the day. This can be so hard to accomplish, especially when you want to binge watch your favorite shows. No one loves Orange Is The New Black like I do, but I have to keep telling myself that I can always come back and watch it later. Let your body adjust from the late nights of summer and go back to the school schedule’s rhythm.

4. Eat healthy.

It is important that we take care of our bodies all year-round. However, it is even more important to take care of yourself when you are busy so that you have the energy to complete your many tasks for the day. Eating healthy is definitely a plus when it comes to reducing stress levels. Studies have shown that people who consume fatty and processed foods have a harder time dealing with stress than those who don’t.

I know, I know. Nothing makes me feel better than delicious, hot French fries too, but I also have to remember how much better I will feel if I ate fresh vegetables instead. With that being said, don’t be scared to occasionally treat yourself.

5. Get a hobby.

Although hanging out with friends can be fun, it is also important to spend time outside of school doing what you are passionate about. Whether it’s painting, drawing or dancing, it is important to take time out of your day or week to do what makes you happy. After a while, you won’t remember what you were even stressed about. The summer is filled with time for so many hobbies, but during the school year, it can be hard to make time for oneself. Just take a bit of time and do something just for yourself, because back to school can be pretty hectic.

Running is my favorite sport. It allows me to spend time outside and get in a workout at the same time. Now only if I could work on not sweating so much. That would be great.

6. Plan ahead for the week.

One of the biggest reason for stress in my life is that I don’t always prepare for the week properly. For example, I won’t study for the quiz until the day before. I mean, I’ll spend all day shopping online for a new shirt, but as soon as it’s time to study I’ll find something else to do. It’s all a day in the life of a procrastinator.

It’s a tough lesson to learn, but when we fail to prepare we prepare to fail. Make sure you’re aware of your assignments and keeping on top of them s0 that you’re preventing later stress.

7. Talk to someone.

Sometimes we just need someone to talk too. Life can be so overwhelming at times that we forget that there is someone else going through exactly what we are going through. There are plenty of people going back to school around this time. Don’t be scared to reach out to a peer, friend or someone around you.

Talking to someone about your problems can also help remind you that no one is perfect. Who knows? You might even make a friend in the process.

8. Stay organized.

The last tip for easing stress is to stay organized. It’s hard to stay on top of tasks and assignments when you are constantly misplacing your materials. Investing in a nice calendar or agenda can help you to stay on top of your priorities before they overwhelm you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found my class notes smashed at the bottom of my purse. Like, how does that even happen? Don’t be like me.