Image from Stocksnap.

Image from Stocksnap.

Going to college can be one of the best experiences of your life. It signals a brand new phase of life that you haven’t really seen since you started high school half a decade ago, and for some, it also signals a time where they can re-invent themselves and find out who they are. But for others, college quickly turns into a nightmare of due dates, too many assignments, and first times dealing with heavy anxiety, depression and insecurity.

Stress is completely normal when you’re under a lot of pressure to succeed in a new environment, but sometimes it surmounts into something bigger that we can’t control. Students are so used to having so much work given to them that it becomes unclear when organisation turns into chaos.

I was a freshman in college last year, and having never really dealt with much stress in high school, I was taken by surprise when I started feeling like work was actually piling up on me and making me freak out way too much. If you know what I’m talking about, but have no idea how to start dealing with it, here are a few suggestions for you.

Talk to someone you trust.

Who else knows you better besides your parents, or your best friends? Often, the most assuring way to relieve stress is to speak to those who know you and who can help you out. If your parents went to college before you, they can also give you details of their experience with college stress and might be able to relate to your situation.

Talk to a counselor. 

Your college’s student health center will always have counselors on hand, ready to help you. If you feel like your stress is getting to the point where it’s becoming top priority to deal with it, then make an appointment with a counselor. Once you’ve gone to them, they’ll help you establish whether or not you might need to be referred to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for treatment.

Take time to focus on your stressors.

So this sounds scary, but an effective way to identify the sources of your stress is to do a little self-reflection. Think about your current life and try to think about when you first started feeling overwhelmed. Is it a certain college paper that’s making you stress out more often than normal? Is there a specific person you want to impress, like your family members or your professor? Are your friends helping you to succeed or are they hindering you? Simple questions like these can lead to the reason why you’re feeling so stressed.

Take a break.

So this might sound really stupid, but everyone needs to take a break from work every now and then. Just because, as college students, we only have academic work instead of nine to five jobs (usually) doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to sit back and relax. A healthy balance between work and play is important! So, when you’re feeling anxious about your work, put it to the side for a little while and take some time to recuperate. Tackling problems when you’ve got a fresh mind can make a huge difference.

Hopefully, these tips will help you deal with stress a little more. Of course, if you feel like you’re so stressed that it’s affecting the quality of your life (e.g., you find it hard to make friends, you lose interest in things you used to be passionate about or you feel like you can’t deal with it) then seek professional help. Prevention is always better than cure.

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the author

Nkhaya is a Psychology student who's still a little bit unsure about how to go about being an adult (even though she flew halfway across the world for her dream school). She has an unhealthy devotion to anything with chocolate in it, and loves to write in her spare time. When she's not busy studying, writing or marathon-watching series on Netflix, you'll find her on Twitter or Instagram (@nkhayapm).

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