13 Stress Management Tips for College Freshmen
Stress management is easier said than done. That’s because we don’t often think about it until we’ve let the pressures of life overcome us. When you’re new to college life, this can be especially damaging.
Many students have trouble surviving their first year in college because they find unhealthy ways of coping. They party too much, sleep too little, and get lost in their studies and assignments. This is wholly avoidable.
In the following article, we’ll be talking about the 13 things you can do to manage your stress as a college freshman. Adopt each one before you need it, and you’ll be prepared when the storms of life come crashing in. Let’s begin!
1. Set Parental Boundaries
It’s unfortunate but true. Your parents can be two of the people who stress you out the most when you just start college. But think about it for a moment. They’ve gone from being around you every single day and caring for most of your needs to nothing virtually overnight.
Your departure closes a pretty significant chapter in their lives, and that can be tough to deal with. So try to be understanding of their position when they seem too pushy or involved. But do make sure the boundaries are set.
You may want to call them every day. That’s fine if the desire is coming from you. But if they’re pressuring you into more contact than you can handle, it’s a good idea to let them know. In fact, it’s essential you let them know.
You’re going to have study time, class time, extracurricular and social events. You’re quickly becoming your own person, and even if they’re still paying for a lot of your expenses, that’s something they will have to accept, as much for their own sanity as yours.
If they’re crowding you too much, you might consider sitting down with them and explaining how busy your life is. Tell them that while you would like to call or come by more, your obligations may not always allow you to.
And if they get defensive or try flipping the script on you with their own busy life, explain that you’re new to all this and feeling too overwhelmed to be able to get everything right right away. Get it through to them that you’re working towards finding balance. They’ll eventually get the point.
2. Establish Your Roommate Distance
Living with a new person — especially when that person’s a total stranger — can be challenging. You don’t know what their habits are, how intrusive they can be, or what their family background is like.
It’s beneficial to establish parameters early on by keeping them at arm’s length. Don’t be too open too soon. It’s better to have strict boundaries at first. You can always loosen them later as you get more comfortable with one another.
And if you just can’t see eye-to-eye with the other person, consider putting in for reassignment. It’s far better to get the living dynamic right even if it means some early turbulence than to live with a problem for the entire semester.
3. Calendar Your Academic Responsibilities
This may not be as big of an issue for those of you who grew up comfortable with cell phones. But in case you haven’t explored the usefulness of your phone for managing obligations, now’s the time to start. Get cozy with your phone or email program’s calendar features.
These allow you to explain a little about what the event/obligation is about. It allows you to set a reminder at the time of. And whatever you do, give yourself a wider berth than 30 minutes to an hour. You might even consider multiple reminders — one at the start of the week it’s due, one the night before, and one the hour before.
This ensures crucial deadlines will not have the ability to sneak up on you. It also gives you the chance to do some last-minute work to guarantee the best possible outcome.
4. Find Time to Work Out
High school metabolism is different from college metabolism. You’ll find that out right away. And it’s no discriminator of persons either.
Even if you were athletically involved in high school, making the jump to college can bring with it significant growing pains. This especially is true as the “Freshman 15” is concerned.
See, when you’re in high school, you don’t have to worry about working out because of things like PE class and your own biological gift of having a faster-than-usual metabolism. But as you go into your college years, the metabolism factor begins to slow, and you’re no longer being forced into a 30-minute or one-hour-per-day workout routine.
Along with stress and poor food choices, it creates a pattern of weight gain that has earned that dreaded “Freshman 15” label. Head it off at the pass by finding time to make yourself work out. This keeps your metabolism on healthy footing and makes sure excess calories are burned off, provided you’re not overdoing it on the food.
5. Eat Right
And yes, it’s time to think more about what you eat. When you’re a kid, it may seem like you can eat all the sweets and fattening foods that you want without fear of retribution. But it all catches up with you as you move into your freshman year.
So, if you haven’t yet, download an app that allows you to track your food. Log what you eat religiously. You’ll find that you probably eat a lot of the same things, so after a week or two, the process isn’t so cumbersome. You’ll also learn helpful tips for logging hard-to-find foods (i.e., finding dishes from popular restaurants that are similar in nature and giving it your best guess regarding portion size).
The act of tracking your food will let you know exactly how active you need to be to keep off the weight. Of course, this pertains to a normally functioning digestive system. For students with thyroid problems, you’ll want to consult with your doctor about alternative weight control plans.
6. Make the Most of Downtime
It may not seem like downtime is a thing when you’re just starting college, but you will eventually learn to manage your time more effectively. And when that occurs, try to make the most of the times when you are not obligated to be anywhere.
How you do this depends on where you’re lacking in your daily life. Do you have the classroom obligations and study time well-in-hand? Then you’ll want to use that extra downtime to pursue something of importance to you. For extroverts, it may mean more social time. Introverts, perhaps just a little peace and quiet and Netflix binge-time.
No matter what your inclination, it’s a good idea to have something in your life that allows you to create something or use your creativity to solve problems of some kind. Whether that means keeping your own blog, painting, or doing woodwork, it’s up to you.
Creativity helps you fill in the gaps of your life. It also can aid you in knowing what to do with that downtime we mentioned in No. 6. Being creative means that you get to know yourself better as a person, and you give yourself a sense of purpose beyond what’s being demanded of you from school, work, and family life.
8. Make Time for Social Events
This one applies to both introverts and extroverts. We all require some degree of social outlet. Whether that means big parties where you’re the center of attention or cozy trips to the coffee shop with your one best friend, you need to interact with the world to be effective in it.
So try to spend more time interacting with people who are important to you. Also, resolve to meet someone new every week and have a meaningful conversation with them. You may never speak to them again, but the act of branching out will make you more effective in work-life and it will help you hone your communication skills, which are so important to career success.
9. Do Not Jump Into a Relationship
Freshman year is not a time to be making rash decisions. If you meet someone in that first semester who turns out to be your husband or wife, great. Just make sure you’re not making that decision together until much later in your lives together.
Not over the next 36 weeks, for certain! You have too much other stuff to worry about: what you want to do professionally, class projects, exams, where you want to live when you get out, managing familial relationships amid the gigantic shift that college brings with it, etc.
Marriage, kids … that all should be on and remain on the back burner for quite some time. So keep it there.
10. Explore Your Benefits
There are certain benefits that come with being a college student. City vendors will offer discounts and giveaways to show they appreciate you being at their university. Get out there and take advantage of what they have to offer.
Since money and time can be hard to come by as a college student, freebies and discounts should be capitalized on as much as possible. Plus, there is something therapeutic, particularly when it comes to stress management, with shopping and pampering yourself. Embrace it!
11. Clean Your Place
A messy pad is not going to help you get the things done that you need to get done. The act of organizing your area helps you feel like you’re getting it together, and it provides that added push for dealing with difficult academic and psychological challenges.
If you’ve always been the type of person who struggles with organizing, then you’ll want to give Marie Kondo’s stuff a read. In the past few years, she has helped many students, couples, and individuals take a closer look at their lives and rearrange their environments so they’re keeping and organizing only the things that spark joy in their lives. She also has a show on Netflix that’s worth checking out.
12. Establish Rapport with Teachers
It’s a lot easier to get a grip on term papers, major exams, and extensive projects if you know and understand where the teacher is coming from. As we move into a world of online classes, don’t let that student-teacher relationship fall by the wayside. Find some time to connect with your instructors during their office hours.
This gives you the ability to understand exactly what they want from you. It also ensures that if there is a gray area at the end of the semester, they will give you the benefit of the doubt.
It’s not about schmoozing. It’s about building the types of relationships that can move your career forward. Learn this practice now with your instructors, and it will be easier to translate it into work life long after graduation.
13. Get Comfortable with City Locations
The last of the stress management tips that we can give you has to do with safety and feeling secure in your own skin. If you’re going to college in a place you are familiar with, this won’t be as big of a deal. But if you’re moving away for college, then this one is vital.
Do some legwork ahead of time. Consult with the city’s police department to see where their “problem areas” are. Most departments keep city-specific statistics on where they get the most calls. You’ll also want to get a general idea of what the most likely criminal activity is in the area you’re going. This allows you to locate in areas far away from this activity and to take preventative steps to lower your chances of becoming a victim.
Furthermore, knowing where everything is gives you the ability to feel more at home. When there is downtime, you won’t mind going to this coffee shop, that restaurant, or this-or-that shopping center. You’ll be able to call the new city a true home away from home.
These Stress Management Tips Will Ensure a Successful Freshman Year
By making stress management a priority now, you can get out ahead of all the problems you’re likely to experience as a college freshman. Stick with the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to a terrific four years.
Now it’s your turn. What are some stress management tips that have really helped you through high school, and how do you plan to employ them in the next year? Sound off in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]