Managing Stress: Why college students should prioritize self-care

Life as a college student can be stressful; From unrelenting deadlines and endless quizzes to the hazardous balancing act that goes on between working and studying, there never seems to be enough time in a day to appropriately handle all the responsibilities that come with higher learning.

As a result, it appears that an ever-increasing number of college students continue to fall victim to physical, emotional and mental burnout as a result of increased workloads, financial stress and in some cases; inadequate resources related to physical needs. In an article by Sophia Mcclennen for, Mcclennen contemplates on the variety of stressors afflicting college students elaborating:

“College student stress is nothing new. Anxieties over homesickness, social pressures, challenging course loads and more have been a common feature of the U.S. college experience for decades. But, without question, student stress levels and psychological distress are measurably worse than before.”

If college is as stressful an environment as it demonstrably appears to be, then why do we willingly subject ourselves to such torturous environments? For many, the existing stigmas surrounding a lack of college education is enough of a deterrent to convince the average college student to take on these stressors. For others, it is perhaps the notion that a lack of a degree establishes the individual as less appealing to future employers. Regardless of the reason, there is usually some degree of intrinsic justification for those perspectives despite there being evidence that opposes those theories.

Ultimately, stress is an indispensable byproduct of college. Much akin to the starving artist trope, it appears that some degree of suffering is essential to producing results that are complex both in meaning and in substance. However, the degree to which we must suffer varies and there exist various ways of combating stress in our daily lives. To that extent, the concept of self-care has become an increasingly popular term in the vocabulary of the college student. Senior research editor at John Kelly describes self-care as,

“Something specific that does not take too much time and allows us to exercise small forms of control over a world that can feel fast-changing and dominated by chaos.”

It is important to make the distinction when considering the implementation of a self-care routine into your life that the goal is not to spend funds, indulge in negative behavior or attempt to make changes that are drastic. The goal of self-care is to reestablish control over stressful situations through consideration of the self with an emphasis on balance, composure and longevity.

With those guidelines in mind, below are 3 tips designed to help you navigate through stressful situations in life and in college.

  • Be mindful of your surroundings:

It may seem easy to put off minor chores and duties until the last second, but when dealing with a wide assortment of outside responsibilities this mentality can be harmful. As chores pile up and we prioritize different things, we produce an environment that tends to affect our general outlook. By maintaining a clean, organized environment and by prioritizing small chores like dishes or taking out the trash, we tend to feel more at ease and as a result, we feel more capable to handle our responsibilities.

“It’s difficult to try and stay on top of things as far as college goes, but if I don’t push myself to make a conscious choice to keep my surroundings organized then eventually it just bums me out and it’s pretty much another issue I find myself thinking about,” said Miranda Blackgoat, a student at Laguna College of Arts and Design. “It sits in the back of your mind and it sucks.”

  • Appreciate the details:

One of the biggest factors in play when contemplating college related stress is our aversion to dealing with deadlines. Homework, quizzes, projects, attendance requirements and all manner of deadlines exist in college environments. This constant hustle associated with meeting those deadlines tends to inflict a sense of dread in even the most capable of individuals. However, it should be said that while these deadlines are unavoidable, we should also prioritize the observation of smaller, inconspicuous details that are present in life. Self-care relies on the optimization of self-awareness. Take the time to appreciate the small things in life; not everything needs to be a burden. By taking the time to become aware of these details, we tend to become willing to embrace a sincere form of patience.

  • Be considerate of your physical, mental and emotional health.

The time you spend in college is going to test your ability to multi-task; and so, time management is essential to maintaining a degree of productivity that is effective and that will produce the results required of the environment. However, college students tend to overlook some very important factors when dealing with a new schedule. As a result, some college students end up neglecting themselves in terms of their personal health. To that end, students should prioritize simple yet effective guidelines to maintain their health. These guidelines include goals such as getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, taking frequent breaks, staying hydrated, limiting all-night study sessions and so on.

These ideas are all essential to keeping a positive outlook on your college experience and hopefully can help you through trying times.