As high school seniors prepare to become college freshmen, feelings of anxiety and stress over the unknown “college experience” will arise. Freshman are immensely excited to have the opportunity to start their college experience in person on the IU Southeast campus, however, many factors can contribute to the stress and overwhelming feelings all students face at times.
Some contributors to those feelings may include a lack of sleep, low academic performance, a heavy work life and many other things.
Learning to combat these stressors in the chaos of life can also be overwhelming if students do not have a practical game plan going into college ahead of the first semester. Below are 10 practical steps to keep away stress while keeping your sanity in college.
1. If you don’t snooze, you lose!
This may be self-explanatory, however, many students do not actually take this into consideration or make enough time in their schedule to get enough sleep for the everyday stressors they face. The University Health Center at the University of Georgia says that students only get about six hours of sleep a night, but that most young adults may need close to 10. Taking time to sleep will help your body and mind replenish.
2. Eat actual meals.
With the hustle and bustle of life, it can be hard to take time to sit down and have an actual meal. Many times students feel that in order to accomplish any work, they have to grab a quick unhealthy snack and caffeine to continue down the endless rabbit hole of work. Just like with sleep, without having actual meals, students are unable to give their best effort to college work.
3. Be careful with the caffeine.
Students are avid coffee drinkers. Who doesn’t want a fabulous caramel macchiato in a warm atmospheric coffee shop while studying? The caffeine can become a problem, however, when students rely on the caffeine to get through the day or to stay up late in the night finishing homework. It can become a habit that is hard to break. The Life Sciences Journal at Boston College says that students crave the feeling of alertness, but that an overconsumption of caffeine often becomes the problem. Many studies have even shown that while caffeine helps for a short term alertness, it often causes problems such as impaired attention.
4. Push it, push it real good!
It is scientifically proven that exercising makes the body feel better, and puts the mind at rest. Not everyone has to go to the gym to feel good about exercising. Simply going on a walk or doing yoga will not only wakes up the body, but makes you feel better in the long run. By focusing on some self-care, it gives your mind time to rest.
5. Study smarter, not harder.
Many students believe that more studying time equals better grades, but this is not necessarily the truth. Finding out the way you learn is the best method of studying well. Are you a visual, auditory or tactile learner? Using platforms such as Quizlet and Chegg to study are also available. If these don’t seem like your speed, try Googling your learning style and different ways to study. Once you find your style, stick to it! This will allow you to study smarter, not harder. Post University recommends also changing your surroundings to make a comfortable environment, such as a quiet picnic table, or a certain study spot you go to each time.
6. Have at least one mental health day a week.
Whether this is on the weekend, or in the middle of the week, make sure to rest and recharge for your upcoming deadlines by not doing any schoolwork. Instead, take time to spend the day with friends, doing hobbies and enjoying your passions. The human body is very resilient, but it can only take so much. Just like the body needs food to recharge, the mind needs a day to reset.
7. Do one thing for yourself each day.
While having a break day during the week is nice, students also need to allow time to breathe throughout the day. A lot of the time students have busy schedules waking up, going to school, work, homework, going to sleep and doing it all again the next day. Giving yourself even 15 minutes to breathe prepares yourself for the next day ahead. Taking a breath may mean playing video games for half an hour, celebrating after a test with ice cream or lighting a candle and reading before bed.
8. Set aside time and money for self-care.
Taking time to take care of yourself is immensely important. If your body is not in good shape, your mind won’t be in good shape to slay the day. Self-care looks different for each person, but it may mean going to get your nails done, getting a car wash or taking a nice long shower. No matter the type of self-care, if you don’t take time for yourself now, it takes a toll on your mental health.
9. Make friends and keep in touch with them!
Making friends in college is necessary to have a good support system when things get stressful. Some other ideas include making a study group with friends or simply doing homework while visiting with friends.
10. Take counseling into consideration.
Needing help is okay, and even necessary at times. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone close to you if you feel like you could use extra help managing stress, anxiety or even depression. IUS has free Telehealth counseling services that are conducted over Zoom. For more information on their services, call 812-941-2244 or email email@example.com.