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2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
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The Healthy Dose 001: Managing Stress in College

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Craig Bidiman, the UMass Boston Health Education and Promotion Specialist, recommends getting more sleep as the number one way to reduce stress. 

Stress can seem pretty unavoidable as a college student. In the 2015 National College Health Assessment (NCHA), researchers found that 30 percent of students reported stress negatively affected their academic performance, and over 85 percent felt overwhelmed by everything on their plate.
Classes can be demanding, homework can be intense, and balancing work and life at the same time often feels impossible. I remember those days vividly—staying up in the library until 4 a.m. trying to finish an essay due for my 8 a.m. English class.
Coffee, Red Bull, cookies, and sun flower seeds—anything to keep me focused, awake, and productive. It wasn’t necessarily a healthy way to live; and looking back, it wasn’t the best way to manage my stress.
Knowing the undergraduate lifestyle, I want to share three general ways to make your day a little less stressful. These are all changes I made in my life to greatly decrease my stress levels so I could perform better during the day.
First—Get some sleep, yo!
The NCHA study suggests that students prioritize seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Seems impossible, right?
Not if you make an active effort to disengage from the world and focus on good, healthy sleep.
I know, I know, I know—Netflix is addictive, Facebook is engrossing, and homework still needs to get done amid all of that, but there is nothing more important for managing your stress than getting some sleep. You’ll function better, think better, and process your daily tasks much more coherently.
A simple step to achieve better sleep is to stop using your phones, TVs, iPads—whichever—and either read, or relax at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
I’m honestly not the best at this, I often scroll through Instagram until I fall asleep, but most nights I read a couple chapters from my book before dozing off to meet Mr. Sandman.
This  little change in your nightly routine could mean the difference between good sleep and no-good, very awful sleep.
Second—Eat well, ya dingus!
By eat well, I mean, prioritize healthy and tasty foods like fruits and vegetables—foods that give you good natural energy. Make a breakfast for yourself. I start every morning with a banana, an apple, a glass of orange juice, and either a bowl of cereal or a couple of eggs as well. I would suggest staying away from energy drinks or excessive amounts of caffeine.
I speak from experience on this one, folks. Limiting your caffeine intake will help you function better, especially if you are getting the right amount of sleep.
Also, pack your lunch. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll be able to keep yourself to the food you packed. Load it up with some baby carrots, a Clif bar, and a PB & J sandwich!
Finally—Exercise, sweat it out!
I know you’re all incredibly busy, so I suggest taking at least 30 minutes out of your day to either take a walk, go for a run, or squeeze in a quick work out in the campus gym—a quick mile on the treadmill, some free weights, and maybe a little jump rope to get the heart rate going.
This will allow you to get your body moving, which will increase your endorphins, and improve your mental state—allowing your body to manage your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and sweat away that stress.
And if getting to the gym doesn’t work with your schedule, take time in the morning to do a quick set of push-ups, sit-ups, or even stretching before starting your day has shown to greatly improve your mobility throughout the day.
Okay, there you have it! Our first dose of healthy living strategies is complete.
Lastly, I may work for University Health Services, but my office is on the third floor of the Campus Center (3407)—within the Student Activities Office, so feel free to come by whenever if you would like to learn more about health and wellness, get involved, or to just chat about life.
Until next time! Be well and stay curious!

App highlight: Calm
This app is wonderful for folks who need to just take a moment and breathe. I like to use this when I am walking to and from meetings, or when I’m sitting on the train during my commute. The app leads you in breathing exercises and