Back To School Blues

No More Back-to-School Blues

Starting classes. Making friends. Mounds of homework. These and many more things are the cause of stress for millions of students returning to college and arriving for the first time. There are different types of stress that can affect students, which can ultimately affect their performance at school and their mental health.      

First year students are even more affected by this, by not only having to deal with the stress of classes, but also the social pressure to make friends or go to parties. However, there are multiple ways to combat this stress and not let it ruin a great year before it even starts.

Feed the Mind — As Well As the Body

Katherine Rizman, LCSW, a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services explained that the center on campus most commonly sees people with anxiety. She said, “We see a lot of anxiety here, which is directly related to stress. There are lots of different factors, such as social, academic and even athletic.”

She mentioned that when this anxiety kicks in, students forget to take care of themselves. Even something as basic as eating can be neglected.

Rizman said, “Our bodies are not going to handle stress well if we aren’t eating, especially if we are eating the wrong things. You won’t be able to focus or do things the way you want if you are hungry.”

Taking small breaks to eat something filling and nutritious will not only help you be able to manage your stress better, it could even give you the energy to finish all the tasks that are causing your anxiety.

This also extends to exercising. Being active and getting your blood flowing can help distract your mind from your homework, or get your creative juices flowing to help you finish that paper.

Sleep Is Important!

Many students do not get enough sleep, which can lead to being more agitated. Rizman explained that exhaustion makes it difficult to think rationally when stressed or anxious.

Cengage Online recommends trying out different sleeping schedules and sticking with what makes you feel the best. Test how many hours you need to wake up feeling refreshed for your 8:30 class.

Treat Yo’ Self

Besides being the most iconic line from the series Parks and Recreation, treating yourself is also a nice distraction from stressful situations. Kristian Thame, a junior health studies student, says leaving campus and shopping helps him clear his head.

He said, “I like going to the mall because there is always something going on, there’s always something to see, and if I can treat myself to a little pick-me-up, I’ll buy something as well.”

Thame continued, “It motivates me to keep working, it’s almost like I’m telling myself: ‘Okay, you made some time for you and you rewarded yourself for all your hard work, keep working hard and we could do this again.’”

If shopping isn’t your idea of treating yourself, it could be just watching a new rom-com on Netflix, playing video games with your friends, or trying out that new recipe. Just make sure it’s something you love to do.

Don’t Forget: Put Yourself First

Often, with all of our other obligations, it can be difficult to put our mental health and emotional needs before others. Fradely Delacruz explained how being a freshman political science student has its own challenges.

She said, “I definitely feel stressed because the pressure to succeed is much higher. Also, it is kind of scary thinking about creating your own path to your own future. It’s all up to you now.”

However, she remembers that her emotional health is just as important as her academics.

Delacruz said, “When I get really overwhelmed, or just need a place to let my thoughts roam, I like to journal. It helps me pour my emotions out in a way that is just for me and not others.”

Back-to-school is a stressful time for us all. It is difficult to adjust from having all the free time in the world to now having classes and homework.

If you or someone you love needs someone to talk to, Counseling and Psychological Services is located on the third floor of the Student Center, and can be reached at (732) 571-7517.

PHOTO TAKEN by Jenna Puglisi