Heading back to campus is filled with excitement, anticipation, and an underlying stress that sometimes comes with the territory. With a rollercoaster of emotions, events, and new beginnings, there are ways to be proactive, manage, and reduce the stress that comes with heading back to school. It is incredibly common, and at times, inevitable, for most students to feel the effects of social pressures, new environments, homework demands, and so on. Arm yourself (or your kids) with these easy tips for managing back to campus stress.
Back-To-School Stress Trigger Points can include:
- Class load, homework, and grades
- School testing: quizzes, papers, exams, finals, standardized tests
- Scholarly pressure from teachers/mentors/parents/personal – or lack there of.
- Peer pressure & desire to fit in: substance use, relationship management, roommate & friend situation
- Balancing school, athletic, & social endeavors
- Homesickness or isolation
- Living environment: new city, chaos/loud dorm life, new people/new expectations
- Financial concerns: ability to manage a job, go to school part or full-time, and address financial responsibilities
In reflection, individually these are all trigger points, not to mention the fact that most of us experience a combination of these at the same time. Now, the good news: YOU can take control of your situation, before the fall out (aka, breakdowns, panic attacks, and/or tears). Now breathe, and find out ways to be proactive about stress management.
Explore the Options That Work Best For You, but first and foremost:
- BE PROACTIVE.
- Learn about counseling services offered at school or around campus: Talking to an outside person who’s removed from your situation can offer an objectified perspective, advice, and a good listening demeanor.
- Notice what your stress signs are: Nervous habits (picking nails, biting lip, etc.), lack of appetite or overeating, heart racing, inability to fall asleep, etc. Once you’re aware, you’re more likely to react to these in a positive, preventative manner.
- Find your humans. Join clubs, teams, neighbors, classmates, etc. Connect with people who enjoy doing the same things you do! Having someone who’s got your back is a relief when you feel like you’re in the thick of a stressful moment.
- Get your sweat on. Exercise releases endorphins and feel-good chemicals to help balance your mood. Additionally, doing fast bursts of cardio will get your heart rate up – forcing you to normalize your breathing, ironically enough, if panic sets in.
- Practice good sleep habits: Try to stay away from screens after dinner or at least an hour before bed, and do something to slow your day (read, meditate, decompress).
- Focus on your breathing: Take slow, deep breaths, in and out.
- Take time to yourself everyday, a MUST.
There are many positive ways in which you can proactively manage your stress when you head back to campus; be aware, react, and take care of yourself. Above all, remember that you will get through these stressful or anxiety-triggering moments. Find a mantra that you can repeat to remind yourself of all the good, and see yourself through that tunnel.