Whether the most recent graduation involved a high school diploma or a Bachelor’s degree, there are some aspects of education that students don’t learn much about.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. Getting assignments done, studying for tests, writing papers, somehow balancing every other area of life – it’s not easy. Experiencing stress is universal for all people, but the real deviant is how it’s managed.
It’s helpful to know that stress is common among all college students, but chronic stress in college shouldn’t be as severe as it is. By learning how to manage individual stress in whatever way works best before moving into a dorm room, students may alleviate the severity of stressful times and become more resilient.
High school was certainly stressful. With a seemingly freer schedule, college seems to be a slight break from constant work and focus. However, with college also comes independence. Living away from home and learning how to balance the academic, social and other areas of life isn’t always easy. Classes add-on tests and long essays to the plate, and life can feel like an endless conveyor belt piling on more and more stress.
Learning how to manage stress can feel foreign. Yes, stress is helpful and stimulating, but excessive amounts are present in a college environment. Wellness should be thought of as a scale with equal weights on each side. Throw one side off its alignment, and the other side becomes precarious.
The same representation goes for stress. Someone who’s always feeling overwhelmed, eats poorly and doesn’t get enough sleep – a realistic, though stereotypical description of many college students – usually has a limited ability to cope with stressful events.
When people neglect to address and take care of the less visible signs of health, everything else suffers the consequences. Research from Mayo Clinic shows that stress negatively affects your body, mood and behavior. Stress can result in a wide range of consequences, including headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, sadness, restlessness, irritability and much more.
The American Psychological Association even goes on to list how chronic stress wreaks havoc on every single system within the body.
Stress management is not a one-size-fits-all skill. Finding whatever self-care activities or practices work best will probably take some trial and error. Some classic relaxation techniques include deep breathing, listening to music and reading.
Ultimately, whatever takes the mind off of the hectic noise of everyday life should be incorporated into students’ weekly or daily routines.
Additionally, the power of talking with counselors or loved ones shouldn’t be underestimated. According to counseling resources from the University of Florida, it’s easy to get caught up in a problem or a narrow view of something and feel that a failure or roadblock is a catastrophe. Discussing problems with a trusted professional or helpful ear allows people to gain new outside perspective and move out of what might seem like an isolated and negative internal world.
Nobody is perfect in handling stress. Everyone only has one body and one life. A certain upcoming essay, test or situation is only temporary, but health is always there.
Underlying every new experience, no matter how stressful, let’s prioritize maintaining balance. The diploma will eventually come, but let’s make the journey getting there a little easier and healthier.