College can often feel more like a circus than where we go after high school to pursue our dreams. Maintaining grades, a job, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, roommates, and other extracurricular activities, all while pursuing our career goals, can turn into quite the balancing act. Just like any circus performer, however, juggling everything at once takes time and practice.
Coping with college is a tricky, but yet necessary, reality. Developing good coping skills ensures that we avoid playing defense when taming wild situations in the ring (see what I did there?). Because stress affects us all differently, coping skills will also affect us differently. For example, someone may need to start their mornings with meditating in order to tackle the day ahead of them. For their neighbor, hitting the weights to unwind in the evenings may be more effective. However we cope, it’s important that we dedicate time throughout the week to ourselves in order to ensure that we’re performing at our greatest potential.
Stress can have severe impacts on our bodies, both mentally and physically. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause us to gain and lose weight, lower our abilities to fight off colds, negatively affect memory, and cause severe long-term medical issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Chronic stress can interfere with how we process information and interact with others on a daily basis. A slight comment that our roommates may make after a long day at work could be taken out of proportion. A test that we would generally score really high on, could be more challenging than usual.
Not only does the counseling center have great resources on how to cope with stress and anxiety, but there are some simple coping skills that we can employ on our own:
- Meditation and relaxation apps – meditation doesn’t have to be facilitated by someone else in order to be effective. There are some great apps, and even Youtube videos, that are great too!
- Quiet time/time to yourself – if you’re more of an introvert, simply having time to yourself may be the perfect way to recharge.
- Working out – several studies have shown that exercising for just a few minutes a day can greatly improve depression and stress levels.
- Reading – reading can often take your mind off of other activities going on throughout the day. Books on professional development are really great to check out while in college.
- Spending time with friends – this may help extroverts recharge and is great for talking about issues you may be dealing with.
- Hobbies – actively setting time aside to enjoy the activities you love will aid in preventing depression and lowering stress levels. Even if you have a lot to do, you’ll thank yourself later for giving yourself the much needed break and doing something you love instead.
- Sleeping – one boundary that you could set for yourself is creating a bedtime and wake-time that you follow everyday, including the weekends. Having a regular circadian rhythm helps regulate hormones, and stress levels as a result.
- Nutrition – a diet that consists of a lot of fast food can result in blood sugar spikes throughout the day. This may cause you to be more anxious than usual. Food can be medicine, so make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet to prevent unnecessary anxiety levels.
Finding out which coping skills work best can be the greatest personal experiment. Coping skills are ultimately tools that will set us up for success in balancing our daily struggles and empower us to be the ringmasters of our own lives.