There are no two ways about it—college will be one of the most stressful times of your life. You’ll have to face the clash of social and academic schedules, you’ll have tests that seem impossible, professors that don’t seem to like you, roommates you don’t see eye-to-eye with, and any number of possible other situations that cause stress. However, it is possible to manage these stressors and learn to deal with the stress that they cause.
When it comes to managing stress, time management is paramount. One of the decisions that you’ll have to make every day is how to prioritize different things in your life. These can include your social life, athletics, a job, academics, and anything that might take up even a small amount of your time. Learning to balance all of these things is a skill that takes years to develop; however, if you focus on discovering the best way to organize your day, you’ll be a step ahead of the game. Keeping a schedule, either on paper, on a PDA or cell phone, or on your computer will aid your time management efforts. Use it to plan all of your activities—but don’t be afraid to change them when needed. Don’t let your schedule cause more stress than the things that you put in it.
Finding a relaxing activity that you enjoy is one of the more valuable things you can do in the battle against stress. There are as many different stress-relieving activities as there are people. Some popular ones include reading, journaling, watching movies, exercising or just holding a non-school-related conversation. Find something that you like to do that takes your mind off of the problems that you have. You’ll find that you feel a lot better if you can schedule this activity into at least most days.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use on-campus resources. People like your RA, a counselor or a chaplain can provide very helpful information as well as listening ear, which can be just as important as the above strategies. Going to talk about stress or problems that you’re having is nothing to be ashamed of—in fact, once you seek help from these people once, you’re very likely to go again. It’s an effective way of getting advice from someone who has a greater amount of experience than you do.
While stress is something that you’ll be feeling a lot of throughout your college career, you don’t have to let it control your life. Be pro-active and take steps to manage your stress; the earlier you start, the easier it will become.