College and Stress – Take Control of Your Life

College brings the best and worst out of some, but mostly—a good dose of stress. Stress, in simpler terms, is the opposite of relaxation. Both positive and negative aspects of life can be equally stressful. Coming from external forces in our lives, pushing our buttons and provoking extreme emotions, reducing stress is critical.

Jumping into a new sect of life is very stressful. While we leave behind school, former friends, family and home, we go off to explore new places, friends, priorities, and learn new things. Students tend to overlook stress involved in making big changes in short periods of time. Though college work is harder and sets at a higher level than high-school, students should expect professors to assign more reading, writing, and problem sets opposed to what was given in high school.

Giving yourself an opportunity to adjust gradually helps, and choosing a course load that has a balance of challenging and not as intense classes is key. Although planning and managing your time is the initial step in managing stress, staying physically active and engaged is vital.

Below are some tips for managing stress:

• A good strategy in managing your time is to buy a calendar or planner. Writing down when and where your classes meet, assignment deadlines, and pending tests will serve as reminders for your important tests and assignments, which determine your grade
• Need a break before or after an exam? Locate a spot on campus where few students go. Taking a nap, listening to your iPod, or simply basking in the sun helps tremendously.

• Get all your work done as soon as possible. Although this will require planning, having free time on the weekend is always ideal. When you have free time, immerse yourself in the outdoors. Hike, mountain climb, cycle, etc.

• Check out the Recreation Center on campus! Doing yoga, Pilates or simply working out are excellent ways to strengthen your body and mind. .

• Don’t take on too many activities/projects at once—joining too many things at once, aside from classes and school work, and possibly a job, can be hazardous to both your health and your academic performance. Make sure you balance all social activities with the requirements of being a college student.

• Get plenty of sleep—on average, a college student gets around 6 hours of sleep according to a study by the University of Michigan. Getting plenty of sleep allows your body to relax and regenerates your mind—which can help you take on your daily duties with less tension.

• Follow the rules and stay out of trouble. Whether its parking in an unauthorized spot or doing something illegal, neither one follows with a positive outcome. Be sure to abide by all rules to ensure that you have a legal and stress free semester.
Get used to stress, college students. Stress is going to always be part of your life, so find something you enjoy by yourself or with friends to maintain mental and emotional health. Be creative, there are endless possibilities in controlling the unwelcome friend we call stress. Once you find your stress-defeating niche, keep at it. Like Aristotle said, after all, “excellence is habit.”

(Western Carolinian Intern Shelby Harrell contributed to this report.)