How To Manage Stress While You’re Working on Your MBA Degree

The demanding nature of business school and MBA programs often exposes students to high levels of stress. This can affect their mental health and overall well-being. It is crucial to acknowledge the susceptibility of these students to the adverse effects of stress and prioritize their support and resources to ensure a healthy learning environment. Even online grad school involves making new contacts, managing responsibilities, meeting deadlines, and constantly pushing ourselves to do our academic best. But how do students manage stress? 

A recent American College Health Association study found that nearly half of graduate students experience above-average stress, while almost 20% reported experiencing tremendous pressure. MBA programs can be demanding, with heavy workloads and rigorous schedules.

Effective stress management is a valuable skill in the business world. Employers value individuals who can handle pressure, adapt to change, and maintain composure during challenging situations. By demonstrating the ability to manage stress, MBA students enhance their employability and increase their chances of career advancement. By developing effective stress management skills, students can excel academically, professionally, and personally. This MBA Stack article contains tips, information, strategies, and essential tools for managing the stress of your MBA career and life.

What Stressors do Business School Students Face?

stress in an mba

Graduate school is a transformative journey that holds a unique journey for each student. It molds and shapes individuals in distinct ways, allowing them to develop their own set of skills, knowledge, and experiences. It is no secret that MBA programs can be challenging and demanding. However, it is important to remember that many of the stressors encountered in these programs are common and experienced by students worldwide. By acknowledging the challenges, you are better equipped to develop strategies and coping mechanisms to effectively navigate through them.

An MBA Includes Finances and Debt

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Financial concerns are a common source of anxiety for many individuals. Countless graduate students heavily depend on student loans and scholarships to fund their education. The burden of accumulating debt while pursuing your education can be an overwhelmingly stressful experience. 

An MBA Includes Work Responsibilities

Graduate students working full- or part-time while earning their MBA are pulling double duty. While they’re not working, they’re studying. If they’re not studying, they’re working. Feeling like you can never get any downtime can be highly stressful. 

An MBA Includes Academic Pressure

For many business professionals, an MBA is the highest academic credential they will achieve. The pressure to excel in exams, assignments, scholarly articles, and a demanding curriculum can be overwhelming. MBA students who are part of fiercely competitive programs or have obtained scholarships for their graduate studies often face increased levels of academic stress. This is because the pressure to succeed and meet high expectations can be even more pronounced in these situations.

An MBA Includes Managing Health Issues

Our well-being is greatly influenced by various factors. We all know how mentally draining it can be to cram a ton of information into our minds. It can feel overwhelming and exhausting, leaving us in dire need of some relief. The MBA program’s continuous requirement to produce research and papers can be quite taxing. It demands a significant amount of time, effort, and dedication from students. The demanding nature of being a graduate student can often take a toll on our health.

An MBA Includes Family Responsibilities

After completing their undergraduate studies and gaining some work experience, it is not uncommon for many MBA students to further their education through graduate programs. This path allows them to build on their existing knowledge and skills, while also equipping them with the necessary expertise to excel in the business world. These MBA students often have partners, children, or other dependents. Even though you’ve been accepted into business school, your family commitments are still as important as ever. It’s crucial to find a balance between pursuing your educational goals and fulfilling your responsibilities at home.

What Are Signs of Stress?

Recognizing and managing stress is crucial for MBA students to maintain a healthy balance in their lives. It’s not uncommon for students to overlook or downplay the early signs of stress, only realizing it when things become overwhelming. Developing self-awareness and learning to identify these warning signs are essential skills that can empower students to proactively address stressors before they escalate. By taking proactive measures, MBA students can ensure their mental well-being, productivity, and overall success in their academic journey.

Stressed Body

When stress strikes, it’s common to experience a decrease in energy levels, tense muscles, restlessness, and excessive sweating. These physical signs serve as reminders that your body is under pressure. Other physical stress indicators include insomnia, headaches, and changes in appetite.

Rest plays a vital role in maintaining overall well-being and productivity. By allowing yourself to recharge, you will feel rejuvenated, more focused, and capable of tackling challenges effectively. Don’t neglect the importance of rest – it is an investment in yourself that will ultimately benefit your personal and professional life. It is crucial to prioritize rest and make time for it. If you do not, your body will do it for you. Studies show that stress makes us more susceptible to colds, infections, and sickness.

Stressed Thinking

The human brain is an incredibly powerful and remarkable organ. Its intricate network of neurons allows us to think, learn, create, and make sense of the world around us. It is constantly processing information, solving problems, and adapting to new situations. Our brain truly holds the key to unlocking our full potential and achieving greatness in all aspects of life.

Unfortunately, our brains don’t always send us clear signals when they need a reset. At times, you might find yourself struggling to maintain focus and concentration. These noticeable changes are clear indicators that stress is accumulating. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of daily life and neglect our mental well-being. But taking the time to give your brain a break is essential for improving focus, creativity, and overall productivity.

Stressed Emotions

Our emotions act as powerful guides, helping us perceive and understand the world around us. They provide valuable insights into our experiences and keep us in tune with our surroundings. You might become aware that you are experiencing a heightened level of unnecessary worry, anger, or irritability. It’s important to prioritize your emotions and take them seriously when they indicate a problem. Trusting your gut instincts can lead you to make better decisions and find effective solutions.

Tips to Manage Stress While Pursuing an MBA Degree

When it comes to maintaining optimal mental and physical health, nothing beats taking proactive steps to prevent stress. By implementing preventative measures, you can ensure well-being that will benefit all aspects of your life. Mastering strategies and consistently implementing them requires dedication and persistence. It may require a significant investment of time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By diligently understanding and executing effective strategies, you can enhance your chances of success and achieve your goals in a more efficient manner.

Focus On Your Body

Physical health is a powerful ally in the pursuit of managing stress. When it comes to fueling your body, be intentional. With every bite, you are nourishing yourself with vital nutrients that power your day and keep you going strong. The importance of choosing nutritious foods cannot be overstated, as they provide the necessary energy to tackle any task or challenge that comes your way. Embrace the power of wholesome meals and unlock a world of endless possibilities!

Regular physical activity is not only good for your body, but it also has a profound impact on your mental well-being. Engaging in regular exercise keeps both your body and mind operating at their peak performance levels. So, make sure to prioritize exercise. At the bare minimum, move your body for 30 minutes daily. On the flip side, rest is not a luxury, it’s absolutely essential for relieving stress. In our fast-paced world, taking time to rest and recharge is vital for maintaining good physical and mental health. Don’t underestimate the power of giving yourself permission to relax and let go of daily pressures. Embracing rest will enhance your overall well-being and help you face whatever comes with renewed energy.

Find Habits that Work for You

Let’s face it: not all of us are the type of person who jumps out of bed early, runs a marathon every month, eats vegan, and makes the highest number of sales calls every day. Each one of us has our own distinct set of goals, preferences, and habits. These personal characteristics shape who we are and guide our choices in life. Embracing and honoring these individual differences is essential for a fulfilling and well-rounded existence.

Keep who you are in mind when you are seeking to build good habits. Be realistic when setting goals for yourself. Embrace your own morning routine and make it work for you while achieving your goals. Start improving results by stopping off the subway sooner on your walk to work. Cut your time in the kitchen and your meal calories by streamlining your meal planning. Listen to your favorite podcast while walking around the neighborhood. Implement some time blocking to make sure you are using your time efficiently and effectively. Everyone can build helpful habits.

Don’t Sweat What You Can’t Control

manage stress

Some factors in life cannot be controlled. Let’s identifying what what we can influence and make the most out of those situations. By adopting a positive mindset and taking proactive steps towards achieving our goals, we can minimize the impact of the external forces and maximize our own success. Remember, it’s not about what happens to us, but how we react to it that truly matters.

Practice Mindfulness

Yoga, meditation, and any other relaxing activities help reduce stress. Research shows us that mindfulness improves functioning and reduces stress. The idea might sound too simple to solve the truckload of stress you face. However, a daily mindfulness app or taking a few minutes to clear your head can make a substantial difference.

These are just some of the tricks and tips for warding off stress in our lives. Adding to your MBA Stack of experience and education is how to optimize your time as a graduate student. There will always be stressors in life. The key to managing them is to stay connected to yourself, keep focused, and find helpful habits. You can do it!