College life is most likely a completely different lifestyle from any you have experienced before. Whether you have been in the workplace or are coming straight from high school, are single or have a family, you can expect to feel stress. It is how you handle stress that will make a difference in your performance and happiness as a student.

You are now paying to be educated (or you may be getting loans which must be repaid in the future) so your education has become ultra important. In a community college, especially, you probably have other responsibilities and priorities. Making your education your number one priority is difficult.

Finding a balance in your life and discovering ways to deal with stress are what you need. So, let's first identify what stresses you have, then let's find ways you can deal with them effectively so that they don't keep you from succeeding as a student.

What Causes Stress?

College students can expect stress. Major life changes are occurring, and it is a rare person who doesn't feel the effects. Understanding and acknowledging what causes you to feel stress will enable you to make needed changes to reduce these potentially harmful feelings. Building better coping skills is crucial. The following list has some of the reasons why you may be feeling stress. Write down the ones that apply to you.

Do you need an attitude adjustment? Identity boost? Feeling lost under the weight of the newness of college life?

Is the coursework too difficult? Competition for making good marks a stressor? Do you need a tutor or a study group?

Are you feeling the common stress of college students? Longer hours of study? More independent demands on you to be responsible for your own learning? No one to tell you what to do?

Are you experiencing multitasking stress? Are you working? Have a family? Taking too many college hours? Rethink where you can make adjustments.

Are you staying up late studying for class? Not organized? Not getting enough sleep? This impairs reaction time, judgment, vision, information processing, and short-term memory.

Are you staying balanced? Feeling overwhelmed? As a college student, no matter your age or circumstances, a balance between work, school, and play is crucial. Nobody said it would be easy.

Is financial stress keeping you from focusing on your studies? Perhaps you need a counselor's help with financial planning.



Suggestions for Managing Stress

Solutions always sound easier than they are in practice. However, they are known to work - so try them! Will some of these methods work for you?

 1.    Visualization. Picture yourself doing well on your test or giving your class presentation. Turn off your stress level and picture yourself calm and collected. Use positive thinking methods.

2.    Exercise. The healthiest method of blowing off steam is a regular exercise program. Breathing exercises are very helpful, especially when you feel stressed in class. 

3.    Eat right. A healthy diet will boost brain power and boost your mental and physical energy. 

4.    Self-control. Manage your time, schedule, study- and workload. Overloading yourself will stress you out more!

5.    Power naps. It is a well-known fact that students do not get enough sleep. We need 7-8 hours per night. Take a quick 15 minute nap and wake up refreshed. NASA has proved it increases efficiency.

6.    Find help. If you feel totally overwhelmed, contact a counselor through your instructor or Student Services.