5 Tips for Managing Stress to Start a New Academic Year

5 Tips for Managing Stress to Start a New Academic Year

It’s that time, once again, when new and returning students will flood campus as they embark on another year of academics and adventures.

But the start of the 2017-18 academic year is often a time of stress and uncertainty as students adjust to their new classes, new classmates, new professors and new roommates.

If you’re feeling a little anxious or stressed about all this change, you’re not alone.

Frank Budd, director of Counseling and Substance Abuse Services at the College of Charleston, offers the following tips to help you get through the first day of classes and beyond.

1. Be positive

Although there are a multitude of concerns racing through your mind, Budd suggests focusing on the positives:

  • New opportunities to meet friends and learn more about things you have been interested in.
  • Start over with a new group, if high school was not what it should have been. Diversity is embraced — be who you are, not who you think others need you to be.
  • See your professors as a resource, not an enemy trying to crush you or overwhelm you. They love their subject matter and are very invested in helping you learn it and be successful in school. Talk to them after class and use their office hours.
  • You can do it! See being here as a fun adventure. Change is a challenge and helps you grow as a person. 

2. Keep your expectations realistic

Dream big but stay practical day by day.

  • You won’t have the deep friendships you may have had before right away, but you can begin to find people who you connect with.
  • Don’t get stuck in your room.  You won’t meet any new people, make new friends, sample all the great organizations and clubs on campus, or see this amazing city from your room. Don’t wait for an invitation, take the initiative and invite someone to join you!
  • However well you did or didn’t do in high school, college is supposed to be more challenging, and you may need to work harder, pay more attention and ask for more help than you have before.
  • Accept your feelings of nervousness or anxiety as a normal part of this exciting time in your life, not something to be avoided or as signs of impending doom. (Remember, almost everyone is nervous.)

3. Get organized

Nothing helps reduce feelings of anxiety like getting organized.

  • Get or use a calendar – on your phone, in your backpack on your refrigerator or all of the above.
  • Know when your exams are, when your professors’ office hours are, when you plan on preparing for papers/projects/tests and when you will schedule time for yourself.
  • Take charge and write everything down, color code it, keep yourself on top of things and accountable for how you spend your time.

4. Don’t feel overwhelmed, manage your time

Whether it’s studying, exercising, relaxing, or even sleeping: balancing your time will help keep you on an even keel.

  • If you want As and Bs, hours of studying should be twice the number of credits you have each week. If you’re taking 15 credits, plan on studying 30 hours per week. Make sure you keep up with all reading, homework, papers, projects and test preparations.
  • Be flexible and holistic.  There is never a perfect balance of work and play, but strive for what works best for you (and your GPA) each week.
  • On your calendar put in study time, tests, labs, professor’s office hours, and your down time to exercise, hang with friends or Netflix binge.
  • Take your cues on time management from how well you’re keeping up with assignments and getting the grades consistent with your abilities and effort.

5. Talk to Someone

Take advantage of all the resources around you at the College. No one needs to feel lonely or alone.

  • Talk to your RA. They are a great source of support and information.
  • Talk to your “Big,” if you’re in sorority or fraternity.
  • Talk to your roommate or suitemate, who likely have similar feelings and concerns.
  • Introduce yourself to someone on your floor in the dorm, in class or where you are eating. Everyone is waiting for someone else to start – be the one.
  • Talk to a Cougar Counseling Team member by calling 843.953.7411 or by visiting them on the 3rd floor of Robert Scott Small. No appointment is necessary, Monday -Thursday, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Can’t sleep? Feeling anxious about something? Talk to a professional in Counseling and Substance Abuse Services, 843.953.5640. The service is free, confidential and easy. (They even offer free yoga twice a week, and a have a free mindfulness class.)

For more “Student Success Tips” visit: http://counseling.cofc.edu/parents/success-for-students.pdf. For self-help resources visit: http://counseling.cofc.edu/self-help-resources/index.php.