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Dealing with Stress

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How to Keep from Being Overwhelmed Your First Semester

December 6, 2019

College is an exciting time, and it can really open your eyes to a variety of new experiences and ideas. It’s a time to really figure out who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. 

But when you first arrive, it can feel a little overwhelming. That initial jump from high school to college can be so jarring. About 30% of college freshmen drop out after their first year. While a variety of reasons contribute to this dropout, it’s safe to assume that many students withdraw because college isn’t what they were expecting or they felt overwhelmed by the pressures, schedules, and responsibilities. 

So what can you do to avoid feeling so overwhelmed during your first year of college? Finding ways to manage your stress can make the experience easier for you. Let’s look at a few ways you can enjoy your college experience as soon as it starts, rather than letting it completely overwhelm you. 

Plan Ahead to Avoid Surprises

If you’ve never been much of a planner, college is the perfect time to start. You’re likely going to have a busier schedule than ever before, and it’s your responsibility to stay on top of it. Organizing your schedule and writing it down is a great way to avoid unnecessary stress and to make sure you’re never “surprised” by anything that comes of. 

Of course, it’s also important to plan ahead when it comes to taking time for yourself. Schedule in some time with friends, plan a trip to go home to your family or go one step further by planning ahead for a great Spring Break trip to de-stress. Heading to the tropical beaches of Punta Cana or skiing the slopes in Aspen can be a great way to unwind with your new college buddies. 

Simply put, staying organized and efficient will make it harder for things to “sneak” up on you. You’ll feel less overwhelmed when you know what’s coming. 

Blow Off Some Steam With Sports

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, one of the best ways to blow off some steam is to stay active. Many colleges across the country have on-campus gyms or athletic facilities where you can work out almost any time of the day. Exercise is a natural mood-booster and can help to combat stress. 

In addition to exercising on your own, you can choose to join an intramural sports team on campus. These teams are usually a lot of fun and can get you involved in unique activities like flag football, volleyball, or even ping pong! 

A survey of 850 students found that those who participated in sports had better overall mental health than those who did not. Making your mental health a priority in college can mean the difference between whether or not you stick with it. You don’t have to be a star athlete to have fun and get active. 

Form Healthy Relationships

One of the best ways to make college easier on yourself is to form solid relationships. The friendships you develop in college will be the ones that last a lifetime! Whether you find common ground by playing sports, joining clubs, or becoming best friends with your roommate, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to find people you can connect with. 

Finding your “community” in college will make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. You’ll also have a built-in support system, so when things do start to feel overwhelming, you can turn to that support for help. 

It’s true that the initial shock of the college experience can feel a little bit overwhelming. But, by staying organized, getting involved in things, and finding people to connect with, you can live out that experience to the fullest and enjoy the next few years of your collegiate career. 

Health Other

Dealing with Stress at University or College

September 1, 2017

Dealing with Stress at University or College

Attending university or college is a very exciting step in life. A lot of uncertainty and stress comes with it, however. Students must deal with studying for exams, finishing assignments on time, worrying about their future, and making new friends. Trying to manage these goals can leave you feeling overwhelmed and can lead to more severe mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-confidence. Fortunately, there are techniques and resources that can help stressed-out students cope with the issues they face.

Stress Related to Social Experiences

Departing from the safe haven of your parents’ home for the first time, meeting new people, and building friendships can be scary. The good news is that many others attending university or college are in a similar situation! Here are some tips for making friends:

Stress Related to Workload

Studying is a major part of a successful university or college experience, and learning the art of studying is necessary for good grades and a good future after university or college life. Many students, however, are not educated in this art, and know neither how to study nor how to manage their time effectively.

Here are some tips to help you study better:

Stress Related to Self-Confidence

Whether because of low self-esteem, or too much self-criticism, many students fall short of caring for themselves and do not give themselves enough credit for their accomplishments. Just as studying and time management are necessary for a successful university or college life, so too is self-care. When we do not care for ourselves, it is difficult to care about other things. Here are some ways to build your self-confidence:

  • Practice self-care.Sleep well, eat healthy food, and exercise as much as you can. Treat yourself and take care of your appearance. How you treat your body will have an impact on your learning.
  • Remain positive.Sometimes you may get a bad grade, or get frustrated with a task. It is important in these situations to remain positive about the broader picture. Focus on something funny, something you love, or something that brings you joy when you feel down.
  • Have fun.Be sure to get out and do things that are fun. It’s important to have a balance of school and personal life.
  • Silence your inner critic.We all have that negative voice in our head telling us negative things. If you are thinking negatively or are worried a lot, change the way you think about yourself, about others, and about school.
  • Give yourself credit.It’s important to recognize the great things that you do each day. Give yourself a pat on the back for even the smallest achievements. This will keep you positive and motivated.

Formal Supports

Long-term stress can lead to decreased academic performance, depression, and physical health problems. Some students may need extra, external support to help them with their stress management and self-confidence. Of course, what is stressful for one student may not be stressful for another. Similarly, some students may have a great coping toolbox, but others may not know how to help themselves in times of need.

It is important to seek external support if your stress levels are high and you are unable to cope. Universities and colleges have on-site student counselors and mental health professionals whom you can speak to. These professionals specialize in areas of workload management, coping with stress, and other student issues.

Students suffering from chronic stress often:

  • Feel anxiety and/or depression
  • Feel unable to manage things
  • Are unable to think clearly
  • Struggle or fail to complete tasks
  • Lack concentration

There are also physical symptoms that are sometimes associated with chronic stress, such as:

  • Stomach ache
  • Sweating
  • Back ache
  • Frequent headaches
  • Fatigue

Starting university can be a stressful experience. The important thing is to focus on how you can cope with this stress. If you have strategies in place, they can enhance your academic performance, keep you happy, and reduce health problems. Be sure to create your own coping “toolbox” with tips and strategies that help you.



Caileigh Flannigan

Caileigh is a play practitioner who uses forms of play as a way to promote children’s development and emotional healing. She is an outdoor play and loose parts researcher who is spreading the word about the importance of free play in natural environments.

Original Source: Blog