How to Pick Yourself Up During the Semester

In 2017, the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment found that 63.1% of college students felt very lonely at some point during the previous 12 month period. On top of that, 86.5% of students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do, and 60.9% felt overwhelming anxiety, indicating just how common feelings of loneliness and anxiety tend to be among students as a whole.

When classes start to pick up, the work starts to pile on, and you struggle to meet new people or find the time and motivation to go out with friends, it can become really easy to feel lonely and stuck in the same old routine. But if you find yourself dealing with any of these problems during the semester, it’s important to take action and go out of your way to take care of yourself.

So, on that note, here are a few simple tips on how to pick yourself back up when you're feeling lonely or stressed out while at school-

  • Call someone you love. I try to call my parents a few times a week, and I’ll often chat with some of my non-college friends over the phone every week or so. Talking to people who support you and care about you can make a big difference in your day-to-day life, and it can really help ease your loneliness or anxiety to speak to family members or longtime friends back home, especially if you're one to get homesick easily. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your loved ones if you need someone to lean on or talk to.
  • Organize your plans and homework. If you’re struggling with your workload, your extracurriculars or even a job or internship, try organizing your activities in a calendar. Having everything written out for you can make a big difference in helping you visualize your week and figure out how to balance your plans if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Planning things out in advance can also help motivate you to find time to go out and do other things during your free time!
  • Study or watch TV somewhere other than in your room. The dark, cold winter months can make it especially difficult for students to want to leave their rooms and hang out around campus, but it’s still important to avoid getting cooped up by yourself. If you don’t want to be alone but also don’t around a bunch of people, try bringing your laptop or your work to one of the academic buildings! Even just being around a few people at a time can help you manage your social needs for the day.
    • On AU’s campus, I like to study and watch Netflix at Katzen and McKinley, which are usually somewhat occupied by students ands staff, but not so much so that they’re as busy as the library or the cafes. Try exploring buildings you’re hardly ever in and see if you can find a spot you like!

  • Exercise. Plenty of schools, including AU, have access to fitness centers that are open for students to take advantage of. Hitting the gym a few times a week is a great way to kill time, release some endorphins and just feel better about your health overall. If you find yourself bored or feel like you’re not being very productive, try spending even just half an hour at the gym a couple of times a week. You can go by yourself, bring a friend, or even sign up for a group exercise class -- any of it works to get your blood pumping and keep your mind clear.
  • Say yes when people invite you out. Sometimes staying in and watching TV all night may seem like your most appealing option, but it's still important to push yourself to socialize and go out with your friends. Even just going out one night during the whole weekend can fill your social needs for the next few days, especially if you're an introvert like me. Constantly rejecting your friends' invitations will make them less likely to invite you out as time goes on, too. Just find a healthy balance for when you stay in versus when you go out so you're not accidentally isolating yourself from your friends.
  • Go to the counseling center. Tips like these are good for helping students break out of their daily routines and squander some of that college loneliness, but if you feel like you’ve been regularly struggling, reach out to your on-campus resources. There are people and resources out there to help you, but you need to seek them out on your own. Don’t be afraid to do so, though -- it's quite literally the job of many campus faculty to help you get back on your feet and find the assistance you need, and they truly want you to reach out to them if you’re struggling. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and your school knows that.

Next time the semester hits you hard, try using these tips to pick yourself up and get back into the swing of things. Just remember: you're not the only person dealing with these feelings, and you're never alone. Take some time to yourself and try to figure out what exactly is making you feel this way, then be proactive about it; even just little, baby steps toward remedying your situation can go a long way.


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