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How to Cope with College Related Stress

The number of students struggling with stress and mental health problems has increased significantly over the years. In fact 1 in 5 college students are suffering from anxiety and depression. Students struggling with mental health issues has increased by 42.4 percent according to research. In 2015 college students completed a survey through the American College Health Association which reported a 10.3 percent gain in their feeling tremendous amounts of stress.

Todays teens rarely manage their own lives and once they go on to college, they are thrust into adulthood. In college teens have to figure out how to manage their lives and many have been sheltered by their parents. Teens today have issues making simple decisions like what classes to take, what activities to participate in and how to pick their friends. Social media has made teen and college student interactions even more complex, because many of them don't know how to think independently and are constantly seeking affirmation from peers they don't even know on a personal level.

Once in college these same students are challenged by: Interacting with their peers, developing positive social relationships, engaging in college clubs and activities, learning how to talk and interact with their college professors , managing their educational plans, balancing part-time employment and family obligations, addressing their stress and anxiety and or managing any learning challenges. These college students simply are not prepared, because many of them come to college advisors with their parents, who communicate for them. I can only imagine it is worse for teens who leave the nest and go to colleges out of state.

What does anxiety look like for college students? It could be a myriad of symptoms both emotional and physical, including fear of new activities, social isolation, insomnia, tension, missing class, frequent headaches and nausea, feelings of fear, doom and hopelessness. Many of these students have never learned how to manage their own feelings and problems. What are some ways to help college students learn how to manage their anxiety, depression and stress levels? Below are some strategies college students can use:

  • Learn to identify your stressors; poor time management, sleep deprivation, screen time ( social media),

  • Become familiar with campus resources including the counseling center, student health services, tutoring, clubs and activities,

  • Seek professional medical help if you feel you may need medication or have used it it the past to help you,

  • Practice mindfulness- Set up a daily log for managing your moods, thoughts and activities

  • Learn to balance your time ( Use a planner or your smart phone to keep you on task),

  • Develop a routine to help you balance your time for all of the things you need to get done.

  • Meditate, which can include prayer, listening to soft music or yoga ( All of these help to reduce distractions),

  • Journal - a powerful way to connect with your thoughts and moods. Journal your thoughts, plans, goals and ideas,

  • Change your thinking,

  • Learn to relax and keep the perspective of one day at a time,

  • Eat balanced meals, drink lots of water and get some physical exercise,

  • Lastly if none of these work, seek qualified professional counseling to help you manage anxiety and stress. Therapy is a way to help college students manage their thoughts, challenge fears , negative emotions and develop tools postive coping strategies.

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