3 Tips to Cope With Stress in College

There are certain times of the semester that stress gets the best of college students – homework, projects, work, relationships – it’s a lot to manage. Everyone comes up with ways of dealing with stress some of which work better than others. Although you may have your go-to coping strategies it never hurts to add more “tools” to your “coping tool box.” Here are a few things to consider:

1. Aim for balance. Have you ever heard the saying, “Everything in moderation?” There’s wisdom in that saying. As a college student you’re responsible for your own self-care. Some students do nothing but study day-in and day-out, but sacrifice their health or mental health in the process. Other students get stressed out by trying to maintain a crazy schedule. Still, others enjoy the social aspects of college life and spend more time hanging out with their friends outside of the classroom than inside it. Their stress creeps up slowly and strikes hard when they discover they have multiple things due at the same time that they’ve been blowing off.

Think of a three-legged stool with one leg being school, another one personal (which includes health and mental health) and the third one social. Placing too much emphasis on one leg means that the other legs get shorter and shorter, which makes it difficult to maintain balance. The key is to make sure that one leg doesn’t get so long (or short) that it doesn’t throw the stool off kilter.

Self-reflection question: Am I placing too much emphasis on one of my “legs” and – if so – how is it affecting other areas of my life (I.e., the other two legs)?

2. Seek support when necessary. Sometimes you may feel like “It’s me against the world” when it comes to everything you have to do as a college student. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that other college students feel the same way you do. It’s helpful to talk to classmates, friends and family when your stress barometer is registering too high. Social support is basically a stress inoculator; the more you use it the less stress will impact you. The Beatles summed it up perfectly several years ago – “I get by with a little help from my friends.” : )

Self-reflection question: Who are my “go-to” people I can turn to for support in times of need? What is it about them that helps lower my stress barometer?

3. Compartmentalize. When you feel overwhelmed by how much is on your plate you may find it helpful to narrow your focus – at least in the short term. Sometimes it’s not possible to deal with stressors that are hitting you from all different directions – it can be incapacitating. The key is to focus on one thing that you can do now – whether it’s something small that results in a “quick win” OR something that’s part of a bigger thing/project that will take some time, but will at least “get the wheels moving.”

Self-reflection question: What is one stressful thing that I need to tackle today and other stressful things that I need to temporarily “tune out?”

You may find it helpful to talk to a professional about your concerns if the tips above don’t provide you with enough stress relief. You can do this from the comfort of your own home, apartment, dorm room…or wherever! Call Dr. Quarto at (615) 403-5227 or shoot him an e-mail at chris@chrisquarto.com to get something set up! chrisquarto.com

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