College can be stressful. You’re beginning a new part of your life, quite possibly in a new town or state, and you’re still not quite sure how to adult yet. You start classes, find a job, build a social life, and suddenly, you’re stressed. There’s no way around it, but there are ways to decrease the amount of stress that comes your way.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
As an avid people pleaser, I struggle with this one a lot. No matter what is being asked of me, I have a hard time saying “no.” However, your ability to say it can help you minimize your stress at college. Now, I’m not telling you to say “no” to everything or to skip out on classes or work shifts, but I am saying that it’s alright to decline an invitation to a group hangout or to not take that extra shift at work. If I tell my friends that I’ll stay on campus and have some quiet time instead of going to the coffee shop or to a concert, they understand that I need to recharge. Everyone has limits, and sometimes that means stepping back and saying “no”.
HAVE SOME QUIET TIME
Even if you don’t have a busy class schedule, college can (and probably will) be overwhelming. You have homework, tests to study for, friends to hang out with, and a work shift to get to, and that’s not including all the extracurricular activities you might be a part of. Being involved is a lot of fun, but you also need to remember to take a breath and come to a stop, so find a piece of your day where you can sit down and do that. You can carry a book with you and read during a break in classes. You can color (or paint or draw) before you go to supper. If you’re super tired, you can take a nap. Most of the time, I will finish my day with quiet time by studying my Bible before bed. Whatever you decide to do and wherever you put it in your day, make sure you have a moment to breathe.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
I know what you’re thinking: I’ve already created my class schedule, so I’m good. While having your class schedule already made is important, I’m talking about finding where each part of your life fits into your day. It’s quite possible that you’ll be juggling a lot of different things during the semester, and it’s important to find some kind of balance. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating a strict schedule (1:30 – Biology, 2:25 – Get ready for work, 2:38 – leave for work). Each day is going to look different, and each week won’t need the same schedule, so it’s important to be flexible with your schedule. I do recommend knowing what is expected in each part of your life and understanding the boundaries. Know when it’s time to pay attention in class and when it’s time to have fun. Understand that you might need more time for studying this week, but that there’ll be more free time to hang out with friends next week. Block off an hour after classes to take a nap, and then get ready for work. Find that balance, and juggling the different things won’t be as difficult or stressful.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m here to tell you that it also takes a village to get through college. Whether you’re staying close to home or moving to a different state, finding your network of confidants is vital to ease your stress during the semester. They are going to be the ones that encourage you, celebrate with you, comfort you, and experience life with you. It’s quite possible that you will have different networks for different areas of your life (pals at work, study buddies in the same class as you, roommates and suitemates, the soccer team, your close friends, the musical cast); the more, the merrier!
You are a fresh adult, and making major life decisions is tough! I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to change your mind once, twice, or a thousand times. It’s okay to take general classes and choose your major later on, and it’s okay to switch majors because you’ve found a new interest in a different career. It’s okay to explore different extracurricular activities until you find something you’re good at and passionate about. It’s okay to try something you haven’t tried before. Go ahead and audition for the musical! Take trumpet lessons! Explore different career options! Find your passions, your interests, and your strengths by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.