stress among college students is growing, so how do we address this issue going forward?

College is usually a time filled with excitement, anticipation, exploration and optimism about the future. It can also be a very complicated time in one’s life. 

Between the chaos of meeting new friends, adjusting to a new environment, keeping up with academically challenging classes and exams, declaring a major that can impact the rest of your work life, in addition to finding ways to finance your education, there is so much pressure placed on college students. 

This can bring on feelings of stress that may not have been present in high school. According to Higher Ed Dive, more than three quarters of undergraduate students considered dropping out of college due to emotional stress, which is an alarming rate that is up from 42% in 2020.

A recent survey conducted by Gallup surveyed 5,200 students across the country who were pursuing a college degree. The results showed that 32 percent of students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program were considering withdrawing from their program for a semester or more - all in the last 6 months - due to emotional stress. 

So, it is no wonder why students feel like the only way to manage their stress is to avoid the stressors all together . Putting their classes on hold or even dropping out from stress can result in students delaying their return to school or completing their degree. Although this is necessary for some, it should not be the only route that students feel they must take in order to get stress relief. 

Stress can also come in many forms for college students, affecting more than academic performance. It can also have a physical effect on the body. 

Students may start to experience a rapid heart rate, upset stomach, constant headaches and fatigue. Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint if the physical sickness is a result of stress or just feeling ill for reasons unknown. 

This is where stress-management becomes key. Unfortunately, there may be some barriers that come with attempting to cope with stress. Resources may not be readily available or easy enough to access. Some students may even feel ashamed of reaching out to receive help for fear of being stigmatized.

What is a possible solution?

Engaging in self-care is one of the best ways to manage the ongoing stress of college life. Self-care is taking time for yourself to promote a healthy body and mind. 

It sounds simple, but it is easy to get lost in the everyday to-do list when you are a busy college student. Self-care shows that you are willing to prioritize your own well-being in order to manage the different areas of your life. 

What does self-care look like? 

Well, it may look like getting extra sleep when possible, eating healthier, getting enough exercise, listening to relaxing music, meditating, journaling your feelings or getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine. 

Taking a few minutes for self-care is all that’s needed to start. Don’t worry if you cannot pinpoint an exact routine right away and have to try different techniques, you will eventually find a routine that works for you. 

It may sound daunting at first, but putting this into practice little by little and incorporating it into your daily routine can make all the difference and change the way you view the college experience.

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