Reality of College Stress

The Reality of College Stress

College is SO stressful. Work, classes, homework, and friends are just a few of the sources of this stress. What does college stress look like? For me it usually includes procrastination, brownies, and sleep deprivation. But, here’s the reality of it: the stress is inevitable, but does not have to be debilitating. Believe it or not, college stress can be managed- and even motivating.

This will sound cliché, but the first step to handling college stress- is admitting that it exists. You need to understand how stress affects you and develop a personalized plan or develop certain habits that will help you specifically handle your stress.

How to feel in control

Take control of what you can control. This looks different for everyone. For me, it means planning out my schedule in detail. This process of taking control requires some self-motivation!

Being self-motivated can be difficult, you need to have real purpose behind your actions. For example: “I want to have a career in public health someday so I want to do the best I can in my classes, so I’m going to sacrifice time I could spend watching Netflix, and study instead” or “student loans stress me out, so I’m going to keep to my budget and save money so I don’t need more loans.” Make a plan on how you will best handle stressors and stick to it. This may require you to quit a few things, drop a class, etc. It is better that you do really well in 4 or 5 classes, than suffer and barely scrape through 6 classes.

Letting go of things you can’t control

Now, there are absolutely stressors that are out of our control. Most of the time you can’t control if one of your roommates is totally crazy, or if your car gets hit, or that your professor doesn’t seem to care about students. In situations like these, you cannot go back in time, but you can control your reaction. Choose to react with optimism, even if it seems stupid. Recognize the good in your life. College is hard, but don’t make it harder by having a bad attitude about things that you cannot even control.

A great resource on this topic is a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal titled, “How to make stress your friend.” Yes, you read that right, stress can be your FRIEND. McGonigal explains the power stress has to either limit us, or to be a catalyst- a motivation.

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How to manage stress in college

My last piece of advice on the reality of college stress is this: no matter the stress- don’t lose yourself. I manage my stress through exercise, journaling and Cosmic brownies- because that’s what fits me, those are three things that relax me. Understand your body and your mind, and find daily habits that will help you control your stress so it does not compound until you explode. Good luck, friends!

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