Dealing with stress when studying abroad can be difficult. There are a lot of triggers that can cause us to feel overwhelmed when we step foot outside of our homes and go to an entirely foreign country. Not only that, but the academic demands we face there combined with the trickiness of maintaining a social life, all the while taking care of our health, can quickly snowball into an unbearably stressful situation that has us shutting ourselves inside of our dorm rooms and weeping.
Fortunately, once this problem is recognized, there are plenty of ways to counteract it. This is precisely what the purpose of this article is. It is inevitable that international students will face some level of stress in their new academic environments, but they are not doomed to simply resign themselves and give up on their mental health. On the contrary, following this list of tips will ensure that you maintain a healthy level of distance and resilience towards all the chaos your new life will likely bring.
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How many of you were hoping that this either would not be included in the list or, if it was, at the very least included way down towards the end as a bonus tip on dealing with stress when studying abroad? Well, like it or not, exercise has been scientifically shown to help reduce the amount of stress people feel in their daily lives. On top of relieving symptoms of stress, exercise releases endorphins, making you feel happier in general. However, a caveat here is that you do not have to go to the gym or run a marathon. Even just a simple daily walking habit can do wonders.
Meditation, just like exercise, has long-since-proven mental health benefits, especially when it comes to handling the stressful pressures that life can place on us. By taking some time every so often to sit down with ourselves and observe our thoughts and feelings instead of identifying with them, we can gain some respite from being stuck in the swirling vortex of suffering. Although stress-inducing circumstances will still inevitably arise, we do not have to let them completely consume us and always maintain a certain level of equanimity towards them.
Sometimes it is not even being heard that we crave, but simply expressing ourselves. One of the best ways of dealing with stress when studying abroad is keeping a journal and writing down both the events which happen to us in our day-to-day lives as well as our feelings about them. Diligent journaling can help us unearth surprising discoveries about ourselves as well as spot patterns that would’ve otherwise remained invisible to us had we simply continued functioning on autopilot. In this respect, journaling and meditation go hand-in-hand.
A lot of stress can come from becoming overwhelmed with tasks we have been putting off for too long. Although a lot of people procrastinate in an effort to escape stress, it is actually the thing that ends up making us even more pressured when our responsibilities pile on top of each other. Carefully scheduling your days can help keep you more consistently productive. Conversely, be mindful to also schedule plenty of time for rest. Burnout can easily happen if you neurotically try and do things even when you are utterly exhausted.
One good thing about being a student at university is that you are surrounded by people just like you. Odds are, they will be able to relate to your problems. That is why a great way of dealing with stress when studying abroad is connecting with others and sharing what ails you. Being listened to and heard is incredibly healing, and listening to others can evoke deep feelings of empathy in you and put your own issues into perspective. This is one of those time-honoured pieces of advice that can be quite obvious but incredibly effective when actually applied.
Artists, poets, and musicians have been dealing with their problems by creating art for millennia and it certainly seems to have worked for them. Giving shape to your pain and expressing yourself creatively can be a great way to cope with the stresses of university life. Constantly consuming content and information is not always healthy for our minds and it is thus recommended that we take the time here and there to be creative. You do not have to completely dedicate yourself to an art to do this, either. The simplest things like playdough sculpting or abstract art can be quite healing.
Dealing with stress when studying abroad on your own can be challenging if not impossible for some people. There is no shame in seeking out professional help when life starts getting a bit too much for us to handle by ourselves. This help can take the form of a student counsellor or even a licensed therapist, depending on your needs. These people can not only talk to you about your issues but also help you figure out a practical way to structure and organize your life so that stress will be less of an issue.
Stress can often take us unawares, especially when we are embarking on such a positively-regarded new adventure in life as studying abroad. However, every undertaking in life comes with a certain level of pressure, and we have to be mindful so that we do not drown in it.
By utilizing the tips we have provided here, you should hopefully have an idea of how to approach the more stressful periods of your studying abroad experience and create a life that you can truly enjoy.
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