Stress is unavoidable. Well, to a certain extent, yes, everyone experiences some level of stress in their lives. However, the magic comes when we learn how to manage these factors of stress in a way that it does not affect us adversely.
It is quite common for students studying abroad to experience medium to high amounts of stress. Some of the factors which contribute to students facing stress abroad can be:
- Adjusting to a new environment
- Making new friends or lack of friends
- Lifestyle changes
- Academic pressure
- Pressure to perform
- The pressure to conform with peers
- Health issues
- Unhealthy lifestyle, eating and sleeping habits
While these are just some of the most common and general reasons for stress, there can be many other factors that contribute to an individual’s stress levels. Every individual can manage their stress differently; however, it is always helpful to have some handy tips which can help you avoid stress when you are studying abroad.
Make Close Friendships
One of the most important things that you can do as a student studying abroad is to make close friendships with like-minded peers. Spending time with the wrong kind of company can become extremely stressful, as you might be bullied, forced into unhealthy lifestyles, or you might even find yourself slacking off in the classroom.
Making good friendships can help you form secure connections and bonds, being able to talk about your stress, and even learn how to manage stress with your friends in a healthy manner.
Engage in Activities Which you Love
A great way to manage your stress abroad is to engage in different kinds of activities that you are passionate about. You might like reading; go to a library regularly, or join a book club! You might enjoy swimming; join the swim team! Or maybe you like to play games or sports, make friends and join your favourite sports or play games together!
There are a hundred and one choices for you in terms of finding your passion and engaging in activities you love. You can create art (and even display it in a gallery), play a musical instrument or join a singing group, dance, get into theatre, and take part in various other activities.
Not only is this a great and healthy way to relieve and manage your stress, but you might also get extra credits in school for these extracurricular activities. Of course, you will also be able to make like-minded friends from these groups, which is a bonus!
Did you know that while some people overeat when they are stressed (a phenomenon is known as stress eating), others might lose their appetite in stress? On top of that, an unhealthy diet could also be contributing to your rising stress levels! It is a vicious cycle!
To manage stress as a student living abroad, it is essential to maintain a healthy diet. This means having as much of a balanced diet as possible. Vegetables and fruits are crucial, along with proper protein intake, good fats (like nuts), and cutting off sugar, carbonated drinks, alcohol, tobacco and other such harmful products.
With the advent of the smartphone and apps, there is now an app for anything and everything under the sun. If you think you are having a hard time counting your calories and keeping track of your food habits, you can always download a fitness or a food app that will help you track what you are eating.
This way, you can analyze what you need to eat more, what you need to cut out of your diet, and finally move on to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
Cut Back on Your Caffeine Intake
Stressful student life and increased caffeine intake almost go hand in hand. It is not surprising to see most students glugging away at coffee and other caffeinated drinks to keep awake and maybe even give them a boost of energy.
However, your increased caffeine intake could be doing you more harm than good. Caffeine can have the opposite effect on you if you have anxiety, are sleep deprived, or just generally stressed or drink too much of it. While the occasional cup of coffee or caffeinated drink is excellent, avoid over-drinking it.
The same goes for alcohol. There will be very few students who will be able to refrain from drinking alcohol, realistically. If you are not one of them, then you can consider reducing your intake of alcohol. While it might have a ‘feel-good factor’ for a couple of hours, the long term effects of excessive drinking are worrying.
Again, this is one of those habits which you either have or you don’t. If you are one of those students who just never felt like picking up a cigarette to try it, great! However, if you are a smoker, then it is time to consider quitting.
While smoking during stressful times can temporarily make you feel relieved, stress-free and even happier, this is just an illusion created by the release of dopamine by your brain. Cigarettes, unlike alcohol, have zero health benefits.
If you think you are having trouble quitting smoking, you can always join a support group, or decide to quit with your friends, so you have accountability.
Don’t Slack with Your Studies
One of the biggest reasons why students studying abroad are faced with stress is because they often cannot perform well in their academics. Well, the only way to combat that is actually to spend time studying.
Group studying can be quite useful, but it is also essential to attend classes, take notes and be attentive in class. Of course, you can always make additional help and support if you need it.
There will always be some reason or the other to feel stressed, especially when you are a student studying abroad alone, without your family support. However, these tips can help you manage your stress in a better way and even avoid them altogether so that you can enjoy a more relaxed life abroad.