If you’re just starting out college, you may be excited, but you may also be anxious. Even as a returning student, you already know that college time can get pretty stressful. With heavy course loads, exams, and multiple essays all due back to back, there’s a lot to fret about.
The negative health effects of stress are well documented, so it is important to reduce stress as much as possible in order to lower the risk of associated complications.
Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, said, “For incoming college freshmen, going away to school means leaving family and a familiar environment for a place with new people, new responsibilities, less support, and a whole new set of challenges. It’s natural for people to experience some anxiety in the face of new situations, but there is a difference between nerves and the kind of overwhelming anxiety that affects a student’s ability to succeed academically or socially. The temptations of the college lifestyle — lack of sleep, misuse of alcohol, and poor eating habits — can exacerbate anxiety and affect a student’s ability to focus.”
Dr. Borenstein suggests, “Start by opening an ongoing dialogue about how your child feels about leaving for college… Let them know that you will be there for them. Stepping back is an important part of helping your child become independent.”
If your child is already seeing a therapist, then as a parent you should speak to the therapist to educate yourself on how your child can further reduce stress and take note of any coping strategies.
Finding friends is a common cause of anxiety. Children should be encouraged to join clubs and activities to meet their peers with shared interests. They should also be reminded to eat well, get plenty of rest, and partake in regular exercise in order to combat stress effectively.
If academic pressure is the cause of stress, they are encouraged to seek out extra help, hire tutors, or speak to the professor or teacher’s assistants for further guidance.
Although college can be a stressful time, it doesn’t have to be, as long as you are organized and employ proper stress management techniques.