How to deal with stress, anxiety in college

Emma Daniel photo

Joe Roark, a risk management insurance major from Panama City Beach, Florida, does yoga to reduce stress, especially when exams pile up. He was a senior in the spring

Emma Daniel

Christina Stone, a social work major from Huntsville and a freshman as of spring 2019, knows how easy it is to brush issues off as “typical college stress.”

“While some of that (stress) is normal, a lot of it isn’t,” Stone said. “I thought I was just struggling more than usual because of deadlines and finals, but by brushing it off, it escalated until I ended up in the hospital following a suicide attempt.”

After this episode, she realized how crucial stress management is in college.

Going to school is a tall order, but Troy University has options for stress control and counseling. Also, many students are willing to give advice and to help those handling stress or mental health struggles.

“Yes, you might miss class a few days (while getting help), but you won’t be able to reach your full potential if you’re not well,” Stone said. “And this may sound extreme, but your education won’t matter if you’re dead. Getting help before it gets out of hand is important.”

Diagnosable mental conditions have the chance to consume a student. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), one in four students have a diagnosable mental illness, and 80 percent feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. 

Yet, 40 percent of students struggling don’t seek help.

Troy University has a Student Counseling Center, where students can make an appointment to talk to a licensed counselor. If a student needs more help or requires medication, the Counseling Center can refer them to another clinic that can prescribe medication or give more comprehensive help.

Students can call 334-670-3700 on weekdays to make an appointment with the Student Counseling Center at 113 College Drive; students must make an appointment to see a counselor.

Celeste Bishop, a psychology major from Pensacola, Florida, who graduated in 2018, said students should utilize the counseling center in tough times.

“When you’re going through a challenging time, it can literally be a lifesaver,” Bishop said. “Mental health is so important, so it’s important to not be afraid to reach out if you need help.

“The counseling center is great about working with students, and it’s free, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of that service.”

Herbert Reeves, dean of student services, said students should “not be afraid to ask for help” and be sure to “lean on the resources the college campus provides,” such as the Student Counseling Center.

“It’s a goal to help all those needing help; however, a person has to want help for counseling to be effective,” Reeves said.

While counseling is a great step toward good mental health, some basic self-care can also go a long way, according to Scarlett Crouch, a chemistry major from Silverhill and a senior as of spring 2019.

“Something simple every day can go a long way in terms of looking forward to the next day and the day after,” Crouch said. 

“Work hard, play hard, and (get some) rest and relaxation,” said Herbert Reeves, dean of student services. “Learning to cope with these issues in college while there are immediate resources and support networks will help a person adjust to the new environment with their future career.”

College holds a few rites of passages of student stress. Most students will experience having an incredible workload, four tests on one day, or the final boss of college stress: finals week. 

While these are issues most students will go through, there are ways to lighten the burden of schoolwork. 

Avoiding procrastination is key, according to Theresa Gardiner, an elementary education major from Madison and sophomore as of spring 2019.

“Always start on homework the minute you get it,” Gardiner said. “This way, if you don’t understand it, you won’t have to scramble the night before it’s due for help.”

Micah Brannon, an exercise science major from Holt, Florida, and a junior as of spring 2019, said that while school is important, separating yourself from the stress once in a while is crucial. 

“Ignore the due dates, the deadlines, all the reminders, and just separate an hour just for you to do you,” Brannon said. “Find something small that you can do super easily, and do it every day, like refilling the ice tray, putting on face cream or dusting the TV. 

“Having something small that you can easily accomplish is a great way to start the day with a feeling of pride and productivity.”

College is a difficult time, and it’s easy to let the stress get to you, but it’s important to not stretch yourself too thin. Going to school is the prime chance for students to learn how to handle the stresses of the “real world” that parents love to talk so much about.

Education is paramount, but going to college is a chance to learn and achieve so much more — don’t be afraid to put yourself first.

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