Being in a new environment can be challenging, but dealing with people you don’t know, difficult classes and in some cases, learning how to live on a budget can be overwhelming. It's called student stress - feeling as if you’re on your own, and learning how to “adult” while trying to adapt and make it all look good. Some of the most common causes of stress are:
Living with strangers
Although freshmen have been wanting to have this experience for the longest time, now you know it’s not all you thought it would be. Remember your parents said you’re going to wish you were still in high school? It was exciting the first few weeks, but once everything dies down, the feelings of homesickness, sadness and structure start seeping in. If you have a roommate, there are times when you’re going to feel frustrated because you want to be alone.
Challenging classes and test anxiety
College and boarding school are not cheap. With all the money going into your future, it can be stressful knowing you’re expected to perform at a higher standard. You have personal expectations, your parents or guardians have expectations, and your professors have expectations that you’re going to put in the work to succeed. Even if you’ve studied for hours, you may sit for an exam and forget everything. All that pressure can create fears, which amplifies stress levels.
Managing finances on your own can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t have a job, things can seem pretty tight. Even with a job, you may not be able to work a consistent schedule because you have to study. Books, food, and living from day to day can cause a great deal of anxiety.
There are different types of relationships in every area of your life: relationships with your parents, relationships with friends, and relationships with love interests. This can be a stressful time, because everyone wants your time – even when you don’t have any to give. If you’re single and most of your friends are coupled up, this could also be a source of stress because you feel as if you’re missing out and desperately want to fit in.
If you’re almost done with your undergraduate career, chances are you’ve been thinking about what you’re going to do with your life. Have you been doing internships? Do you have job interviews? Have you met with your counselor to ensure you won’t have any surprises? All of these play a role in whether or not you can seamlessly transition into the next chapter of your life. These also play a role in high stress levels if you don’t have an action plan.
Dealing with the Effects of Stress
Stress can affect you in a number of ways: physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral. Weight gain, headaches, being withdrawn, mood swings, and sadness are all signs of stress. There are places on campus that can help. Check out the counseling center, go exercise, start playing sports, or learn to meditate. If you find yourself spiraling out of control, do not hesitate to get help. Also, if you see a friend going through a tough time, help them work through it, or direct them to someone who can.