Pursuing an online education is an appealing endeavor for busy professionals with full lives. However, whether you’ve chosen to continue your education on campus or online, earning your college degree can naturally be stressful. These nine simple, effective stress management techniques can help not only in your online degree program, but in life:
- Stay social.
Online colleges and universities make it easy to immerse yourself in your education—so much that you may forget, or put off, keeping in touch with family and friends. Be sure not to isolate yourself when pursuing your degree online. Staying social, even just making a phone call, is one of the easiest stress management techniques to incorporate into your day.
- Get enough sleep.
Teaching yourself how to manage stress begins with something simple: getting enough sleep. A good night’s sleep is critical not only for online learning success, but for keeping your stress levels manageable. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7–9 hours of sleep for both young adults (18–25) and adults (26–64).* Find the amount that’s right for you, and then try to stick with it.
Exercise may not always easily fit into your schedule, regardless of whether you’re earning your degree online or just overly busy, but it’s a time-tested way to manage stress for a reason: it works. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can boost endorphins (your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters), improve your mood, and more. It’s a stress management technique that’s not only good for your online education, it’s good for your body and mind as well.
- Eat well.
Another simple stress management tip? Eat well. While it’s tempting to treat yourself to high-fat, sugary “comfort foods,” these foods actually decrease your energy—and your academic performance. Feed your online education with healthy high-fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Your body—and your GPA—will thank you.
- Get organized.
Between academics and everyday commitments, you’re going to be busy while earning your degree online. A can’t-lose stress management technique for busy students is to get organized—and stay organized. Keep your desk neat. Create folders on your computer. Map out your quarter or semester and set reminders for important dates. Once you get organized, you’ll feel stress levels go down immediately.
- Manage your time wisely.
From getting up early and prioritizing tasks to avoiding distractions and setting goals, managing your time wisely will give you the structure you need to tackle both your academic and personal to-do list while learning online. It’s a stress management tip that takes some time to master, but one that will improve many aspects of your life for years to come.
- Get help if you need it.
When you’re feeling stressed, there’s nothing like talking to a professional to help you feel better, mentally and physically. Many online colleges and universities are equipped with advisors and coaches who help students handle the pressures of earning their online degrees; seeking help from a counselor or therapist can help as well. From coping mechanisms to stress management worksheets, the right experts will equip you with the tools you need to effectively manage stress.
- Take breaks.
Managing stress as you pursue your online education can often be as simple as taking a break. Sitting in one spot for hours on end as you learn online isn’t good for your mind or your body. Stand up and stretch. Go for a walk. Call a friend and meet for coffee. Taking a break doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor. It’s an easy, effective way to manage stress that, like exercise, will give your mood a boost.
- Check in with yourself.
The stress you can feel when pursuing any kind of higher education, online or off, can creep up on you. Trouble sleeping, a rapid heartbeat, depression, poor concentration, and many symptoms of stress can all increase. Take a moment to regularly check in with yourself to gauge how you’re feeling, physically and mentally, then incorporate the stress management techniques that work best for you.
Busy schedules are no match for online learning. If you’re ready to earn your degree, an online education can help you reach your academic and career goals.
With a wide range of online degree programs to choose from and more than 45 years of experience helping working adults earn their degrees, Walden University makes it easier to balance work, family, and your online education.
*National Sleep Foundation, National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times, on the Internet at https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times.