As August begins many parents prepare to send their children back to a college campus. Once the semester begins it is easy to become overwhelmed with classes and commitments, increased expectations, and balancing responsibilities. As a current college student at The Ohio State University I understand how hard it can be to protect your mental health, and practice good strategies for stress management. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, (ADAA) 85% of college students reported feeling overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year. How we manage stress as young adults can have big effects, the ADAA also reported that 30% of college students have reported stress having a negative impact on their academic performance.
Whether you are a college student yourself, or have a college student in your life, there are several simple and effective ways to incorporate stress management techniques to your daily routine. In addition to the basics of healthy sleep and diet habits, exercise, and time management, try out some of the following unique strategies recommended by That Team Up North:
- Start a journal. Many people find that journaling helps with understanding emotions and change.
- Plan leisure activities as part of your daily routine. There’s always things to do on campus!
- Find humor in your life!
- Seek the support of friends and family to “vent.” Don’t focus exclusively on the negatives, make sure you mention at least three positive experiences.
- Try mindfulness meditation. To get started check out these resources from mindful.org and the OSU Wexner Medical Center.
Even with these strategies, it can be easy to misplace our mental health as a priority. Encourage your college students to practice effective stress management! Reducing stress can be easier if you avoid harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco, and limit caffeine. In addition, staying organized and delegating responsibility, or saying no to extra commitments (something I struggle with), can eliminate feeling overwhelmed.
As I’m sure many of you know, stress never goes away, the American Psychological Association states that 44% of adults reported an increase in stress levels over the past five years. Learning to manage and reduce its effects now will enable us to be better equipped for the future. As always if you or someone you know is having a difficult time managing stress there are mental health and counseling resources available on campus, I encourage you to check them out! Stress and mental health shouldn’t have a stigma, they are something we all experience, and can all overcome.