College can be a stressful time, between trying to balance school, work, a social life, health, and other obligations. Add a global pandemic on top of that, and it can be extremely overwhelming. Many schools have gone completely remote for the fall semester/quarter. As a result, you may be doing college online from home. Or you might be living on or near campus for remote classes, or doing a hybrid of in-person and online learning. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it’s going to take a learning curve to adjust to these changes. It’s important to find ways to manage stress when you begin school this fall.
Here’s the Data
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted mental health for college-age students. In a survey conducted during the spring semester by Active Minds, 80 % of college students reported that COVID has significantly impacted their mental health. In a more recent CDC survey, young adults reported the highest levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression, with 63% reporting either or both. College students are experiencing situational stress that they have no control over. If it goes unmanaged, this type of stress can develop into clinical depression or anxiety.
5 Tips for College Students to Manage Stress During COVID
Take Care of Your Basic Needs First
In an uncertain time, try to focus on the things that you can control. Prioritize your sleep, time for breaks in the day and eating healthy meals. Practicing mindfulness is another basic way to manage stress.
Planning out your days can give you structure, even if you’re doing college remotely. Try out a new planner or using Google Calendar to keep track of your tasks and your schedule. You will feel a lot less stressed when you know what your day ahead looks like. To stay organized, also focus on creating a space that works for you, where you can feel comfortable and tune into your schoolwork.
Get Regular Exercise
Being active is always a great stress-reducer. Exercise can give you peace of mind and a much needed break from daily tasks. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or a short virtual yoga class, having a routine for physical activity can be a wonderful remedy for stress.
Even if your college has transitioned to the remote setting, there are still student groups that you can join. Many student groups will continue to meet, even if it’s through a virtual setting. By joining a student group, you can find people with similar passions and who are likely experiencing the same stressors as you. Having people you can talk to and lean on for support during this uncertainty can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health.
Recognize That Your Peers and Professors Are Going Through It Too
The pandemic has brought on collective trauma, a unique psychological disruption shared by all of us. Your peers around you and your professors are feeling the same types of stress and sense of loss for having normal experiences. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in feeling added pressure during this time. Everyone is trying to navigate this “new normal” day by day.
College students are going through a major readjustment to the structure of their schooling. This type of extreme change naturally brings on a lot of stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try referring back to these five tips when starting school again this fall. Another resource you might consider looking into is scheduling a session with one of our therapists who can help you through a difficult school adjustment period.