This is a major concern on college campuses as the nonmedical use of prescription drugs among college students is more than twice as high as that among non-students who are 18-22 years of age (NSDUH). This can be a result of the pressure for academic success, erratic sleep schedules, and recreational drug culture typically associated with college life. Instead of turning to prescription drugs to handle the difficulties of being a college student, try these healthy alternatives!
Sometimes it can seem like stress and college life go hand-in-hand. The constant pressure of something always being due can be a huge stress, especially when managing finances, living with roommates, juggling work, and relationships! Turning to prescription drugs when stressed may seem like a quick and easy way to get through it all, but it has serious negative effects. Instead, try these tips to help relieve your stress!
Take care of your mind
- Avoid unnecessary stress! This may be learning how to say “no” to added responsibilities, avoiding people who stress you out or identifying and avoiding situations that add stress to your life.
- Recognize when you’re getting stressed! Have you found yourself feeling irritable or snapping at others? Do you cry or feel like crying more than usual? Having trouble concentrating? These are signs that you might need a break!
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks! If you’re feeling burnt out, take some time just for you- do something you enjoy! Not only is this a nice getaway from the stresses of life but it can also put things in perspective, which can help prevent stress. Taking care of your mental health will help you do better on exams, papers, and assignments!
Take care of your body
- Take deep breaths! Deliberately copying a relaxed breathing pattern tells the brain that things are okay, reducing the impact of stress. Visualize breathing in blue air and breathing out red air! Click here for more!
- Get physical! Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy! Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity (going to the gym, playing a sport, or even just taking a walk!) a day to ease stress.
- Refuel! Getting enough sleep and eating right go a long way towards reducing stress! Avoid consuming too much sugar or caffeine after dinner to avoid sleep trouble.
Take care of your time
- Make lists! Keeping shopping lists, to-do lists and goals lists will save you time and make planning much easier! Keep your favorite notebook with you or download a cool app to manage these lists no matter where you are!
- Manage your time! Maintain a calendar and dedicate time to planning ahead by prioritizing and organizing your tasks and goals. Make sure to check it every day so you don’t miss any important entries!
- Meet with someone! If you’re struggling to manage all of your responsibilities, check out your school’s Student/Academic Success Center! They will have resources to help you better manage your time and stress!
College life is not always conducive to a healthy amount of sleep, with papers to write, exams to study for and so many fun things to do! But getting enough sleep is vital to keeping our bodies and minds healthy! Try these tips for a better night’s sleep!
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will train your brain to get sleepy and wake up at the right times!
- Exercise regularly. Getting 30 minutes of exercise a day can help regulate your sleep patterns. Late afternoon exercise is the perfect way to help you fall asleep!
- Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Caffeine can stay in the body up to 5 hours. A good rule of thumb is no caffeine after dinner time!
- Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Although commonly thought of as a sedative, alcohol actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings and less restful sleep.
- Use your bedroom for only sleep and sex. Living in the dorms can make it hard to separate your spaces between living, working and sleeping. Making a mental connection between your bed and sleep will make it easier to fall asleep every night!
Self-medicating or coping with pain by misusing prescription drugs is not only dangerous to your health but also can be addictive. These drugs merely mask the pain; they do not cure the cause.
If you are experiencing pain:
- Visit your health care provider!
- Make an appointment with your student health center! Even if they can’t treat your pain, they will be able to refer you to someone who can!
- Look for a Public Health center in your area. Click here!
- Be sure to dispose of your pain medications after you have healed. What works for one ailment does not necessarily work for another!