WES Ambassador Maddy Lavoie is an international student at Delta State University. In this blog post, she shares her tips for students who may be struggling and want to manage their stress in healthful ways.
Everyone is under greater stress now because of COVID-19—students included, and perhaps international students in particular. It is, of course, normal to feel stress in the middle of a pandemic, but there are several ways to manage the impact stress has on you. I have used these methods myself, having learned them as a student-athlete at Delta State University, where I am on the swim team.
After years of trying out different stress-reduction techniques, I have found four that work well for me. I share them in this post in the hopes that other international students will find them useful.
Practice Yoga and Meditation
Yoga de-stresses both the body and mind. It incorporates breath control that clears the mind and relaxes the body. A consistent yoga routine allows you to focus on each breath you inhale and exhale. Each pose is physically challenging, so your mind is focusing on balance rather than outside problems. I start my day with 20 minutes of yoga to clear my mind and prepare myself for a great day. I also finish my day with 20 minutes of yoga, because it clears the stresses of the day from my mind and relaxes my body so I can sleep better.
Hold Weekly Video Calls with Friends
I have found that holding a weekly Zoom call with my friends from college really helps to keep my spirits up while I’m sheltering in place. When COVID-19 closed my campus and the students returned home, I could no longer see my friends or teammates daily. It was a big adjustment for me. I went from seeing them every day to not seeing them at all.
A weekly Zoom call or FaceTime helps me stay in touch with them and keeps me more positive. If you don’t make an effort to keep in touch, you could end up isolating yourself. Do consider holding a regularly scheduled video call to stay connected with your college friends or teammates.
Create an At-Home Workout Routine
While staying home, I’ve sometimes found it difficult to be productive throughout the day. I now do a daily 30-minute workout to increase my productivity. Working out helps to stimulate my mind and awaken my body. It is so easy to sit on a couch all day because we are stuck at home, but a workout invigorates one’s mind and muscles. Exercise energizes us and combats fatigue. When I didn’t exercise, all I wanted to do was watch TV and sleep.
Once I started a daily workout routine, I felt revitalized and got more things done. Exercising also gives the body a way to literally work frustration out of your system. Afterwards, you feel calmer, as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. These workouts helped me set the greatest number of personal records—I was able to lift more because I channeled my frustration into it.
Put Yourself on a Sleep Schedule
That is, don’t sleep in every day. Sleeping in is great on occasion. But sleeping in every day decreases your productivity. Use an alarm to put yourself on a schedule. You don’t have to set it for an uncomfortably early time so that you wake up exhausted. Set a time that is early enough to avoid oversleeping but that allows you to get the hours of sleep you need. Keeping yourself on a schedule increases productivity and encourages greater alertness throughout the day.
These are the top four techniques I use to deal with stress. Trying them will provide a good basis for finding what works well for you. Adjust these approaches as needed. We do not have to let the stress of dealing with coronavirus take over our lives, but instead we can manage it successfully.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).