By Meghen Jones
As an incoming college freshman, it can be a bit scary not knowing what to expect as you enter the next chapter of your life. You’re transitioning from life as a teenager into full-blown adulthood, and it’s a complete rollercoaster ride —and not always in the most exciting ways, either. Sure, you’re concerned with finding a new balance between responsibilities and fun, but with newfound mental responsibilities come obligations to your physical health.
Did you know that student life can affect your health drastically? And no, we don’t mean a quick cold that gives you a reason to skip important lectures. It’s more serious than that—student life causes at least 80 percent of students to experience stress on a daily basis, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Who wouldn’t with so many assignments, challenging professors, sleepless nights, and social obligations?
With the popularity of the Internet, there is a lot of information—both useful and harmful—out there, especially concerning your health. When it comes to mental health, the misinformation seems to be even more prevalent. So, uCribs wanted to help you out by condensing all the useful info into a helpful blog, which considers the different types of stress common to students and how they can cope with it. Trust us, all those feelings you’re feeling are completely normal and possible to overcome.
A big exam is coming up, so obviously your palms are sweating, and you just can’t seem to stop your heart from racing from time-to-time at the mere thought of it. College student or not, we’ve all experienced a moment in our lives where the anticipation of something has led to a high level of stress. This is known as anticipatory stress, which centers around worry concerning the future. Anticipatory stress is usually linked to specific events, such as presenting a project you worked on all semester in front of an entire classroom of your peers. But, if you spend all your time worrying about what may go wrong, you’ll certainly have trouble seeing what could actually go right.
When you’re constantly anticipating your next step, it begins to affect you on a neurological level, triggering anxiety. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! You can combat it with learned coping mechanisms. One of the most popular ways to push back on anxious thoughts is meditation. This practice will help you concentrate on what’s happening at the moment, rather than what’s happening in the near future. When you feel yourself slipping into anticipatory stress, take a time-out and reconnect with the present. It’s all going to be okay, friend!
Anxiety waits for no one and can drop on us at any given time. You may have experienced it after arguing with your best friend, failing a test, or handling a family emergency. Whatever way you slice it, a stressful situation has its way of taking a toll on you and your mental state. Situational stress occurs when you find yourself in a difficult situation that involves some type of emotional conflict.
Although situational stress leads to emotional, and even physical, issues, it’s a type of stress that you cannot anticipate— no matter how hard you try. Just know you’ll feel irritable and may even experience physical symptoms, like a headache, stomach ache, or tight muscles. But, it’s okay and completely normal, as long as it’s short-term. When everything feels static or hopeless, take comfort in the fact that life moments are fleeting. As a successful, functioning adult, you must learn how to manage your emotions in a productive way and partner with your opposition to work out a solution that benefits everyone.
Oh, time. If anyone’s enemy, you are certainly one of a student. It is common for freshmen to experience time stress while adjusting to their new, demanding schedule. In fact, time stress is typically common to all students, who are consistently submerged in a fast-paced, work-oriented environment. No matter how much time is on your hands, you’ll always feel like there just isn’t enough. It can happen when you’re racing against the clock to meet an assignment deadline, driving to campus slightly later than usual for a lecture, or forgoing a class you wanted to take because the enrollment competition was too stiff.
Time stress can diminish your mental health quickly, just like any other type of stress. It leads to irritability, fatigue, and depression. Even worse, you’ll begin to experience difficulty in concentration and memory—and we all know how important it is to be in the zone when it comes to school. Our advice? Don’t bite off more than you can chew and always know when to say no. Boundaries are important in college and adult life. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt to brush up on those time management skills, if we’re being completely honest here.
Stress is bound to happen when you’re balancing student life with regular life. It can make or break your mood, compromise your well-being, and even take a toll on your academic work and social engagement. Of course, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, as stress is a normal part of human life. However, it’s important to stay informed of its effects on your health and know the coping strategies that personally help you destress. Just remember to always take care of yourself first. Other than that, sit back, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready for the ride. This is the adult life you’ve been craving since the budding age of fifteen—and you have to take the bad with the good.