College is a stressful time. We are bombarded with classes, work, and decisions. Becoming an adult is a stressful time, largely due to similar reasons. For most of you, these things are occurring together. We now have extra stress from the COVID-19 health crisis and from students being sent home. People throughout the country and world are scared. It is far too easy to give in to the panic that seems to be overtaking. The important thing for us is to learn how to handle it all. It won't be easy, that's for sure. But here are a few tips.
There are many ways to handle stress. You have to figure out what works for you, specifically. This can start by looking at what things bring you joy in life, and building off of that.
If you enjoy time with friends, figure out more ways to stay in contact with them. I’ve found Skype to be especially helpful while in self-quarantine, as well as during previous points in my life where I was more stuck at home. If you like working out, figure out at-home workouts or find a fun Zumba video online. If you enjoy getting things done, try reorganizing or cleaning up your resume.
These things can be especially helpful when you pair them together. For example, studying with friends can fulfill multiple needs. You are being productive, learning, and socializing all at once. This can be an ideal scenario.
Another important thing to cope with stress is to understand what you are feeling. You can’t just have fun and try to forget your feelings. They have to be acknowledged at some point.
I do this through writing. I either do journal entries, write letters which I’ll never actually send, or I’ll write fiction stories that are a way of me living out varied fears or insecurities. There’s also the option of seeing a therapist, talking to a close friend, praying, getting a mood tracking app on your phone, etc. The important part is that you are acknowledging your stress and monitoring its levels.
You also should work to acknowledge the root cause of the anxiety and what you can do about it. If you’re feeling stress due to school work being too much, then you can work on a schedule that will allow you to manage it better, as one option. Other things may be less controllable or completely out of your control—which is also important to acknowledge. Peace can sometimes be gained through understanding that there is nothing more you could do.
Next, there’s mindfulness. The ability to clear your head and obtain peace is an incredible skill to have... and rather difficult to obtain. It takes time and dedication. You have to practice it enough that you’re able to slip into that peaceful headspace when needed. Some great ways to work on this are varied forms of meditation and breathing techniques.
Lastly, we need to understand that the mind and body are vastly connected. Your mental state can impact your physical health ... but it can also work vice-versa. Check in on your body when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Do you need to eat? Are you hydrated? Have you slept enough? Sometimes there’s a quicker fix to our problems than we are even aware of.
Take care of yourself. Learn to monitor your stress. Learn to address it. We’ll get through this.