If you are reading this you are probably thinking of studying abroad. Only helpful things can come from taking this great decision. And even more helpful and positive if you decide to study in Malta. This small island in the Mediterranean Sea has the perfect conditions for welcoming students and people to live here. Malta is a good choice to study in Europe if you like sunny weather, meeting international people, and not breaking your wallet as it is one of the most affordable countries in Europe.
But today we are talking about stress, this uncomfortable feeling that we all have experienced and most of the students experience at some point in their lives. Having the pressure to get the marks you need to pass the exams, having to do assignments in a tight schedule and all the time that studying takes can be hard to balance with your other daily commitments like work or social life.
And if you add to that equation that you are studying abroad, far away from home, in a new country, with new people around you and different situations that you have to face and adapt yourself to, it can make this stress even worse.
And, the truth is that being a bit stressed is good, is something normal and in some cases, a helpful part of everyday life. It helps us to move and do things. In fact, there are two types of stress: eustress and distress.
The adrenaline that comes from eustress is what gives us the energy and drives us to make a change and perform better. It produces positive feelings of excitement, fulfilment, satisfaction, and well-being. Eustress is good because you feel confident and stimulated by the challenge you experience from the stressor.
On the other hand, distress occurs when stress is severe, prolonged, or both. It creates tension and resistance and you feel incapable of handling the situations you face. And in the absence of the stressor, you are unable to return to a calm state.
While eustress provides us with an opportunity for creativity and growth, distress reduces productivity and creativity and can be a huge limitation in your day to day life, stopping you from achieving things, relaxing or communicating. But there are many ways to cope with bad stress and these ways may differ for everyone. If you feel like this bad stress is kicking you, try out these coping strategies and see what fits you the best.
1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
We know sometimes it’s difficult to prioritize sleeping among other tasks. When you are a student living abroad you have to manage your time like a magician so you can work, study and have some free time all at once.
And sometimes it’s easier to cut time from sleeping but by doing this we are making ourselves less productive during the day. If we can manage to sleep between 7 or 8 hours and make those hours a really quality sleeping time, we would be able to face every day stress much better than if we are sleep deprived, which makes us irritable and reactive.
Try to have a sleeping schedule of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Avoiding screen time as much as possible and doing something relaxing before sleeping will help your body to prepare for the night and it will make it easy for you to go to sleep.
Additionally, try not to study in your bed and tidy up everything when you finish studying, so your brain knows that the task is finished and your body can relax and prepare for the night.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Doing exercise is a proven mechanism to relieve stress. When we do exercise we release endorphins that make us feel good and this can improve our concentration and mental awareness, two key factors when studying for your degree. Exercising is also going to improve your sleep which will help you in reducing stress as we just mentioned.
You don’t need long periods of time or hard workouts to get the benefits of exercising. In fact, it doesn’t matter what kind of physical activity you choose as any type of movement of your body will be beneficial. Either going for a run, taking a 10 minutes walk or stretching your body will help in relieving stress. If you don’t usually workout you can start just by taking a walk around your neighborhood, just by getting out of home and changing the environment will boost your mood and make you feel more energized for your next study session.
Finding time every day, at least 10 minutes, to move your body in any way that you prefer, will give you the boost you need to disconnect, get out of your mind, feel better and escape your stressful thoughts.
Yes, it’s that simple. We know that we are always breathing, but when we are feeling stressed or anxious we don’t breathe naturally, we have this superficial form of breathing. Becoming conscious of your breathing makes you feel this sense of control, that you can actually control the way you breath.
Breathing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to relieve tension in the body and calm the mind. Just by talking deliberately deep, slow breaths the body goes through a relaxation response: the heart rate slows, muscles relax and blood pressure drops.
When your body is experiencing stress, you don’t think as clearly as you could be. Breathing exercises are a really effective way to calm down, you can do it anywhere, and it won’t take you more than 5 minutes.
4. EAT HEALTHY
You are what you eat. You may think it is not that relevant, but your diet is capable of either boosting your brain activity or bringing your mental energy down.
Foods can help lessen stress in different ways. Comfort foods, like a warm chicken soup, boost your levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that affect the body over time.
A healthy diet can help in decreasing the impact of stress by boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It is proven that students are able to learn better when they’re well nourished, and eating healthy meals has been related to getting higher grades, better memory and alertness, and faster information processing.
And contrary to what is thought with some kinds of food for boosting your energy like energy drinks, coffee or sugary meals. They may give you a pick of energy in the moment of taking them but this energy is not going to maintain and it’s going to drop off drastically. And you will need to take more and more, which is not good for your body and it’s going to make you feel more nervous and stressed.
Eating healthy works both as a stress management strategy and a study support. Improving your diet can make a great difference in your grades and how your body reacts to stress.
5. LISTEN TO MUSIC
The power that the music has into our brain is magical. Music can have a deep effect on both our emotions and the body. It goes directly into our subconscious and can instantly change our mood and calm us down.
In fact, there is something called brainwaves, which are electrical impulses from neurons communicating with each other in the brain. Our behavior, emotions, and thoughts are communicated between these waves and they can occur at different frequencies.
There are different types of brainwaves: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. Alpha brainwave is present when we are relaxed and conscious. So it’s a good idea to look for music or sounds with this type of brainwave when we want to induce calmness into our bodies and brains. There are many videos on YouTube where you can easily find various brainwave sounds. Music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool. Also, it can be used while you run your daily activities so it really doesn’t take much time away from your busy schedule.
Music can provide you with a wonderful scenery for your life and you can experience added enjoyment from what you are doing while reducing stress from your day.