The overwhelming stress I’ve had to deal with in college has hit hard. I’ve learned to take it in stride and to not let it become something that defines me. Everyone has to deal with their own stressors in life, whether it is money, grades, family, or friends, everyone is different. The key to all of it is to not let it get to you.
Step 1: Don’t rely on your parents for money or for the answers to everything.
Don’t get me wrong- I love my parents. They’re supportive and always have my best interest at heart, but learning how to do things for myself has been the biggest blessing in disguise. There comes a point where we have to stop expecting that our parents will always be there to bail us out of all the tough situations. College is a time in your life where it’s time to separate yourself from your parents and begin to create a life for yourself. If you learn how to manage your own expenses, you will be so much better off. This was hard for me to grasp; I couldn’t understand why my parents forced me to have my own credit card, and manage and pay for my own credit card bills, but I am so thankful they did! It might mean cutting back on online shopping or meals out with friends, but I feel so much better prepared for the future. I know how to pay my own rent, I know how to pay my own bills, and I know how to pay off the debt I acquire on things I actually need. Having my own job and working for my own money feels so much better than constantly asking my parents for money or relying on their wallets.
Step 2: Surround yourself with people who reflect your same values.
This is simple. If there’s someone in your life who makes you feel badly about yourself or who isn’t someone you want to be around, then don’t spend time with them. In life, you aren’t going to get along with every single person you meet. That doesn’t mean you should go through life being negative towards others or assuming you won’t get along with people, it just means that not everyone is going to love you, and thats OK! Some people come into your life to teach you a lesson, others come into your life because they belong there, and some come into your life to be a passing presence. Relationships end, friendships end, but the ones worth fighting for will be clear. Friendship is the key. With good friends, you already have one of the most important things to help get you through college.
Step 3: Get your priorities in check.
Yes, having fun and letting loose in college is important, but the ultimate reason you’re here is to learn how to succeed in the real world. Learn things from the classes you take that can relate outside of the classroom. One of the biggest mistakes I made freshman year was not going to class, or sleeping my way through them and not taking anything out of them. You’re here to learn how to make a career for yourself… take advantage of the thousands of dollars you spend on the education! With that being said, have some fun. These are the prime years of our life. We’re young, we aren’t tied down, and we have our whole lives ahead of us. Go out with your friends and don’t live with regrets. Balancing schoolwork and friendships isn’t hard and is probably one of the most impressive things students do on a daily basis.
Step 4: Do things that make you happy.
Sometimes I get so caught up in the stress of my life that I forget to stop and take the time to do things I enjoy. This is such an important thing, if not the most important! Do things to keep your sanity in check and take care of your mental health. Whether it’s sitting outside and reading on a sunny day (my personal favorite), going to the gym (not my personal favorite), or binge watching Netflix, just do it. Take some time out of your busy week to do things that will calm you down, or else you will never be productive. This is hard to grasp in college. We are so busy every single day with going to class and then to work, and then to the library or the grocery store or whatever else we need to get done, that we forget to think about ourselves.
Step 5: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Even though not everyone is going to understand what you’re going through, the people in your life who truly care will be there for you. I have struggled with this. I always held things inside because I figured my friends had better things to worry about. This is true; everyone has their own things to worry about. BUT, there are people in your life who will drop everything if it means talking to you for an hour in the slightest hopes of making you feel better. In return, be a good listener. Strive to become that friend who is always there for others, because helping people can help you in a tremendous way. Also, don’t be afraid to see a counselor. College is STRESSFUL. We’re going to school to prepare ourselves for the future, and that is some scary sh*t. There are trained professionals on campus to help you sort through your priorities and deal with your stress. Don’t be ashamed of needing some additional help.