Freshman year is often the most challenging episode of college life. Regardless of your course, such as fashion design at Parsons or business analytics at NUS Business Analytics Centre, your first year in college can cause feelings of stress and anxiety.
Most campuses have a dedicated counseling center that can help students struggling with homesickness and the stress of living in a new environment. However, you should know strategies on proper self-care to help you transform your college journey into a beautiful experience.
1. Know the warning signs
The first step to coping with college stress is to determine if you are experiencing it. Stress has implications on your physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive aspects. The signs include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Forgetting deadlines
- Changes in eating and sleeping pattern
- Frequent headaches, feeling of nausea, heartburn and muscle aches
- Impatience and irritability
- Reduced interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- A consistent feeling of being overwhelmed
2. Manage your time properly
One of the top sources of stress for college students are the tons of homework, academic papers, and projects that they have to submit on time. Avoid racing the clock by managing your time correctly. You have to learn the art of balancing your studies and your personal life. Make a schedule of your to-do’s, and don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. If you are working on a big project, don’t force yourself to finish it in a day or two. Break it into chunks and set a date of completion for achievable milestones.
3. Say no to procrastination
It’s comfortable to sit on your couch on a cozy, rainy day while watching your favorite Netflix series, but you have to resist the temptation. If you wait for the deadline before you start working, you are cooking a dangerous recipe for stress. Sure, you will experience a lower level of stress during the semester, but you have to pay for this disguised convenience after. Later in the semester, you will trade your sleep with catching up on missed submissions. This will ultimately give you a higher level of stress, lower grades, and health problems.
4. Get adequate sleep
You might think that working late to finish your homework or review for a major test is the best strategy. However, constant sleep deprivation affects your concentration and may result in severe illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation tells you to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day so that your brain and body can function well.
5. Know when to take a break
Don’t push yourself to your limits. Usually, you lose focus on doing a single task over time. If you keep going despite feeling tired, you are punishing yourself and causing your brain to experience a higher level of stress. Take a break and return to work when you think that you have regained your focus and energy.
A survey on college stress says that an alarming 39.3% of students seeking professional help found it challenging to function. This is because of unresolved stress that progressed to full-blown depression. You don’t have to be an addition to that number. Knowing how to manage your time correctly and practicing self-care will save you from the stress of college life.