With the right approach, students can cope with college
By Samantha Knight - Staff Reporter
Highline student Shiyana Daniels faces stress and anxiety daily.
She said she feels like her biggest stress outside of school is time management. "It can be a lot, balancing your personal life. Not only trying to keep friends, family and loved ones as happy and healthy as possible, but keeping yourself healthy and happy too."
Another major source of stress for students is finances. For some it's the most stressful part of attending college.
"Finances are the biggest stress. Working with financial aid is a struggle every day," Daniels said.
She is not alone.
According to The Ameri- can Institute of Stress, eight in 10 college students say they have sometimes or frequent- ly experienced stress in their daily lives over the past three months.
"Stress is any type of event, situation or circumstance that threatens your well-being," said Dr. Samora Covington, a clinical psychologist and psy- chology professor on campus.
Stress is an indicator that something needs to be ad- dressed.
"It's warning us that some- thing is out of place or needs to be shifted," she said.
While college doesn't nor- mally induce the life-or-death type of major stress, it is full of the daily minor stressors that build up on each other, she said.
"Sometimes we don't even notice all of the little things that happen to us during the day that place pressure on us," Dr. Covington said.
"College is inherently stress- ful," said Dr. Gloria Koepping, a counseling psychologist on campus.
It's stressful because colleges expect a lot from people, she said.
Some students are required to work a part-time job on top of their college course load in order to support their education, and these students often want to go to school full-time and work full-time, which can be difficult to make work, Dr. Koepping said.
"Figuring out how to pay for books, classes and fees is a big deal for most students here on campus," she said.
She stressed the importance of being realistic about how much workload you can handle while still staying on top of your classes.
Alternatively, to help man- age their stress, students should consider taking fewer credits in a quarter in order to do well in those classes, even if it means pushing back graduation time, she suggested.
In fact, too much stress can inf luence people to make choic- es on how to handle that stress, which then have their own have unintended consequences.
"Wemaynotsleepasmuchas we need to, we may eat too many sweets, drink too much caffeine, or make other choices that feel good in the moment, but don't help us get our work done on time," Dr. Koepping said.
College is stressful and there's no avoiding that, but there are ways that you can make your stress work for you, instead of against you.
Identifying the source of the stress, is the first step to dealing with it.
"It's really important to be able to identify and categorize your stress, so that you can be- gin coping with and managing it effectively," Dr. Covington said.
"Managing stress is not some- thing you should do when you get stressed out, but something you should be doing all the time," Dr. Koepping said.
The key to stress management is self-care, Dr. Covington said.
It comes down to the little things people can do for them- selves every day, and it's important for individuals to explore what works best for them, she said.
"You should be taking care of yourself – falling asleep and waking up around the same time each day, eating the right kinds of foods, and taking up a mindful practice like yoga, med- itation, or deep breathing," Dr. Koepping said.
She said that having a routine can be really helpful for stress management because it keeps your body regulated/function- ing more optimally as well as being an outlet to build healthy habits.
"Exercise is a big one too.
Working through uncomfort- able emotions and stressors though physical activity helps to release them," Dr. Covington said.
To lessen the negative im- pacts of immediate stress, stu- dents can change the way they think about stress.
"It's not the actual stressor or event that is harming you, but the it's the way that you think about it," Dr. Covington said.
Instead of feeling trapped by life's stress, students are en- couraged to change the way they approach their stress by consid- ering what their stress is trying to bring awareness to, and what kind of actions their stress is asking them to make.
One effective way to help manage stress is by getting orga- nized.
Dr. Koepping said that us- ing a daily or monthly planner will help students stay on top of deadlines and other import- ant dates/events that otherwise have the potential to sneak up on them, leaving the student un- prepared and creating additional stress.
"There are a lot of things that can make ordinary stress more stressful," Dr. Koepping said.
With all the stressful lit- tle things that add up, Shiyana Daniels said she understands the importance of knowing yourself.
"I do a lot of meditation, espe- cially outside [during the warm- er seasons]. It really grounds me and forces me to go inward and center," Daniels said.
Daniels said anxiety was completely dictating her life.
"I didn't want to take medica- tions, so I said, 'I'm going to find my own ways to get through it'," she said.
She discovered and explored remedies such as going out into nature, spending time with ani- mals/pets, taking hot baths, and enjoying a relaxing cup of tea.
"Working out is such a big stress reliever," Daniels said, "When I'm pissed or pent up, I go outside to my punching bag and let it all out."
To keep herself organized, Daniels said she uses a big white- board calendar to help stay on top of deadlines as well as the Highline Canvas app, which she found really helpful to keep her up to date on what's going on in her classes.
Self-awareness can prevent stress by helping people to real- ize what is and isn't working in their lives. She recommended that students trust their gut.
"Trust your gut instinct. If you get into a class and you feel like it is not working for you, drop it," she said.
Above all else, Daniels said that she feels stress management is all about making the time and effort to know and take care of yourself.
"Take at least an hour a day for yourself and see what hap- pens," she said.