Stress in College: What You Should Know
Student mental health is getting worse. True or false? It’s true! Despite an increase in mental health awareness in schools, on social media, and even in entertainment, student mental health continues to worsen. “A survey from virtual health services provider TimelyMD found 50% of college students identified their mental health struggles as their top stressor for 2023, and 71% of students surveyed indicated they struggle with issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression” (Inside Higher Education, 2023). Since the challenges of achieving academic success in college are not getting any easier, it makes sense to make self-care a top priority. But not only that. College students must also recognize the physical effects and the behavioral shifts that occur within their bodies when heightened levels of stress and burnout are consistently ignored. This blog will help!
Our bodies are designed to withstand occasional mental and physical stress. However, if the stress remains unchecked, the consequences could result in headaches, allergies, acne, muscle tension, risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, heart failure) and much more. Unchecked stress can also affect your behavioral health in which a regular behavior mutates into angry outbursts, overeating, undereating, social withdrawal, and excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. Being able to recognize the changes in your health and shifts in your behavior are the keys to helping you manage them. Experts suggest:
- Conduct regular mental health check-ins. Seek out your college’s free mental health services. If you don’t feel comfortable using your college’s resources, try virtual counseling or a mentor that can provide you with support.
- Eat healthy.
- Don’t skip meals!
- Make sure you are giving your body the nutrients it needs (water, fruits, vegetables, appropriate amount of proteins carbohydrates and even fats.)
- If your budget is tight, take advantage of your college’s Food Pantry or other free Food Banks in the area.
- Get active.
- Take advantage of your college’s gym where you can use the exercise equipment and resources for free.
- If time permits, get involved in a team sport.
- Surround yourself with supportive people.
- Connectedness is key to overall wellness (UMass Global).
- Isolating yourself consistently will put you at a higher risk for mental health problems. Therefore, you must make a regular habit of reaching out to loved ones, friends, and mental health professionals to help you persevere.
- If your close friends do not attend college, try to form connections with students at your college because they understand your experience, which will help you feel more supported and less alone. You can do this through joining student organizations and through joining a club on social media platforms.
Achieving academic success in college will always be challenging and stressful. However, making self-care a priority by incorporating the tips described above is a great way to persevere through the challenges and stress. Try them today!