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College is an incredible experience. It’s also an extremely stressful one. Between separating yourself from your family and old friends to trying to handle adult life and college schoolwork at the same time, a lot is going on when you’re in school!

And that hurts you. Studies show that college can be a very stressful time, and studies also show that stress can harm your health. Increased stress levels can mess with your sleep and moods, make you more susceptible to diseases, and even shorten your life.

You need to fight back. Here are some strategies for reducing your stress as a college student.

Get help with your work

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Making your way in college is a lot more stressful when you do it entirely on your own. If you’re trying to figure out all of your schoolwork by yourself and trying to teach yourself how to write essays by using books, then you’re going to have a terrible time.

Form study groups with your friends. Talk to professors for help (more on that later). Head to your school’s writing center or homework help center. And use online tools, too. You can find apps to help you with grammar, services that will edit your work for you, and even places where you can buy essay papers online. Using services, apps, and other people to help lighten your workload (while also learning from the good work they do and help you do) can really transform your college experience.

Get better sleep

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We know, we know — easier said than done, right? But the fact is, getting better sleep is one of the most important things that you can do to reduce your stress levels. Study after study has connected poor sleep with stress (and vice versa), and breaking the cycle will help you reclaim the lower-stress college experience you deserve.

Try to go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day — even if your schedule is different day to day. Sleep in a quiet place and in the dark. You can use a sleep mask and ear plugs if necessary.

And try to avoid parties in the hours before bed. Partying may be a part of college, but you don’t want it destroying your sleep (especially on weekdays — but remember that this is a cycle and that weekends matter, too).

Socialize with friends

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We know that we just told you not to party too hard, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be spending time with your friends in college. On the contrary, you should be taking advantage of the social situations that you find yourself in!

Join clubs so that you’ll have an easier time getting to know people in smaller group settings. Chat with people and make friends, and then spend time with those people. Socializing is good for us, even when we’re introverts, and finding the right group and spending mutually supportive time together is key to staying happy and protecting your mental health in college.

Communicate with your professors

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Your professors are different from your high school teachers. There’s a good chance that they’re a lot less hands-on. That’s OK, but you should know that you can have a closer relationship to your professors — and that doing so could help you reduce your stress levels.

When you and your professor actually talk and email each other, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines and be better positioned to ask for extensions. You’ll be able to ask questions about the things that you don’t understand, and you won’t be as fearful of the professor’s authority.

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