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College Stress? 5 Steps to Start Off Your Academic Year on the Right Foot!

By August 16, 2017November 28th, 2018Adult Counseling, Dr. Beatriz Mann, Teen Counseling

The start of college is fast approaching. For many, this marks the end of summer and the beginning of an exciting new year. For others, the start of school can produce anxiety and stress, both in terms of the academics they may face, as well as the social aspects of school. If you are the latter, you are not alone! Here are 5 quick tips and ideas to help you get the year started on the right foot!

1. Sleep

If you feel like you have read this step before, that’s because you have! Sleep is mentioned many times throughout research and therapy. That’s not because we as clinicians have run out of things to talk about.

It is because sleep is that important. Chances are your sleep schedule over the summer looked very different compared to your sleep during school. Over the summer, we tend to go to sleep later, wake up later, and perhaps pepper in a few naps along the way. One way to help make your transition back to school easier is to get your sleep schedule to be like your school routine again. A few weeks before school starts, start going to bed a little earlier each night and waking up closer to the time you would wake up for school. That way, you are likely to have gotten quality sleep a week before school starts, rather than starting the first week of school exhausted!

College Stress

2. Organize

Organizing various aspects of your life can help reduce the amount of stress you feel when school is in session. Organizing can be making sure you have all your classes in order or committing to using a planner. It can also mean getting your backpack ready for school the night before rather than the morning of. Even organizing little things in your life, like your room or desk, can help reduce anxiety and help increase your productivity.

3. Prioritize

When school starts, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with how much there is to do and how much is being thrown at you. Often, it can seem as though everything is a priority and nothing can be ignored. However, more often than not, different tasks and assignments have different priority levels. When you think about your assignments or the pile of things on your “to-do” list, prioritize them. Think about what has to get done today, what is okay to be completed tomorrow, and what can be put off for next week. This can help you make your “to-do” list more manageable, tackling the immediate needs, while also being aware of what is coming up.

4. Don’t Multitask

Do one thing at a time. We like to think that multitasking helps us get a lot done in a short amount of time when actually the opposite is true. Research shows that when we multitask, those tasks usually take us longer and are less precise (or have less quality). As compared to when each task is tackled one at a time. By taking each task one at a time, you are able to devote more of your attention to it, which usually means you get it done faster and better!

5. Put Yourself Out There

The beginning of the year can mean new, exciting, and stressful social situations. If you find yourself wanting to withdraw or feeling nervous, try throwing yourself into the activity you are worried about. Withdrawing will only make that worry feeling stronger, which makes the social situation seem even more overwhelming. Another thing you could try is imagining some of the usual social situations you might be in when school starts. When you imagine those scenes, play it out like a movie in your head: How would you want to act? What would you want to say? How would you like the other person to react? Research demonstrates that imagining things going well actually helps things go well in real life!

If you find that your stress or anxiety is more than usual and is getting in the way of your academics, give us a call today and let’s see how we can help you feel better!

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Dr. Mann is a licensed psychologist that specializes in healthy coping, college adjustment, anxiety, personal identity, balance, and mindfulness.

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