by BRANDON UTLEY
Stress. Let’s be honest here: nobody likes it, nobody wants it, but everyone has it and may not know how to get rid of it. Read on for some of my methods that you may find helpful.
“Stress is the typical overwhelmed feeling when essential needs are put in duress,” said Colleen Lloyd, one of the area coordinators for residence life who has a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology and profession experience with mental health patients. We’re in college, so problems are everywhere and ignoring that persistent feeling seems as difficult as sitting through a five-hour calculus course.
Before you are anywhere near prepared to handle stress, you have to know what causes it. According to every college student’s residential doctor WebMD, stress is caused by multiple factors.
These include but are not limited to:
Emotions: A wide range of emotions and emotional trauma can lead to increased stress levels. These include depression, guilt, and low self-esteem.You are in college, so you are going to start experiencing a whole new array of emotions. You just have to find a way to sort through them and focus on what is important.
Relationships: This is a big one and does not just apply to romantic partners. Feeling as if your friends have excluded you can cause an increase in stress. Finding a group of friends that you feel 100 percent comfortable with is insanely difficult, but once you do, you will never want to be away from them. Consider checking out a student group on campus to meet new people.
Family: Being away from home, missing your family, or wishing they would stop calling you every day can take a toll. Even though you are so far away, your family will never stop stressing you out. Make sure you take time to call them every once in a while. It will make them happy and may even push them to stop bothering you constantly.
Money: Being broke is not fun, that’s all I’m saying. But you can avoid breaking the bank by avoiding impulse buys. It may seem perfectly fine to buy a Keurig at 3 a.m. because you wanted hot chocolate until you don’t have money to buy anything else.
Work: Being broke may not be fun, but neither is trying to work while in school. You can end up falling behind on your schoolwork, and that will no doubt stress you out. Do not be afraid to ask your boss to lessen your hours. Having money is great, but it is not worth putting your physical and mental health or your grades in jeopardy.
To help you manage stress, here are some tips you may find helpful:
Take a time-out: Always make sure you are taking time for yourself. Schedule times throughout your week when you have no responsibilities other than working on your well-being. Whether this time is spent watching Netflix, taking a nap, or reading, it is necessary to have an hour or so to worry about nothing but yourself.
Eat healthy: You may not like it, but it has been proven that eating healthy can help reduce stress. Limit the amount of fast food you eat, and try to replace foods high in fats and sugars with healthier options. It can be difficult to find tasty, healthy options at an affordable price, but it’s not impossible. Kroger and Walmart both have options that can serve as healthier alternatives to famous college cuisine like ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and pizza rolls.
Exercise: It is often difficult to find time to exercise, but it can be very beneficial to your mental health. Lloyd said that “exercising and listening to music can increase serotonin levels, which leads to relaxation, so taking time for self-care is a necessity.”
Exercise gives you a reason to get away for a while. Take time to focus on nothing but your exercises. Whether you’re out for a run or lifting weights at the gym, good physical health can boost your self-esteem and allow you to let off some steam. Students have access to the Hanson Fitness Center and are able to get a YMCA membership at a discounted price of fifty dollars per year.
Get organized: Once you find a form of organization that works for you, you will find your life less stressful. Lloyd suggests making a to-do list to handle your stress, stating, “even if the first thing listed is ‘write to-do list’ it can be something simply to cross off and get things rolling.”
Also, use a planner to keep track of assignments and other commitments, or keep an electronic calendar to remember important dates and meetings, or even download an app that sends you a reminder for important deadlines. Whatever method you choose, make sure it caters best to your individual schedule and workload.
Get involved: Getting involved on campus is a great way to reduce stress, just don’t get too involved. Joining a sports team, club, or organization allows you to get away from your responsibilities for an extended period of time. These activities give you a chance to meet new people and a reason to get out of your room and focus on something else. There are plenty of groups on campus that cater to all students. So join the Pokémon club, go out for intramural sports, run for a student government office, or join us here at The Tystenac.
Talk to someone: Sometimes all you need is to vent. Talking to someone about your problems gives you the opportunity to express feelings you may have had bottled up inside. Talk to your friends; they will always be there for you and may benefit from venting as well. You could also go to your resident assistant, head resident, or community adviser. These individuals are hired to live in the university housing to help students in need.
If these tips do not seem to be helping, there are resources on campus you can use. The counselors in the Seneca House are there to help you whenever you need it. They are trained professionals whose main purpose is to make sure you are in the best mental state possible.
Your professors can also be great resources, so get to know them. You may find them very helpful in times of need and might even enjoy getting to know them, which can make classes a bit easier for you.
You can even go chat with an area coordinator, such as Lloyd. Each one of them has a couch in his or her office and would love to have you come sit, relax and chat. They know what they are talking about and are wonderful resources to have. Remember, they are the ones keeping your RAs sane.
When you notice that you are getting stressed, do not just let it happen. Everyone handles stress differently so take time, relax, and work on finding a method that works for you and your schedule. College can be stressful, but it can also make for the best years of your life.