How to keep stress during college from sabotaging your future

College life can be stressful as students try to juggle schoolwork, employment, internships, extracurricular activities and their social lives — all while living on their own, many for the first time. And, while the pandemic added an extra layer of stress for all of us, young adults were hit harder than other generations.

“Even though older people may be hardest hit by the actual biological and physical problems that come with Covid, younger people are much harder hit by the mental health problems of Covid,” said Dr. Owens, the campus mental health assistant director and psychologist for Farmingdale State College.

In a 2021 survey from the American Psychological Association, 46% of Gen Z adults (ages 18-23) said their mental health had worsened during the pandemic, compared to 33% of Gen Xers, 31% of millennials, and 28% of boomers.

Half of college students reported experiencing anxiety and/or depression in a recent study of nearly 33,000 college students across the country conducted by researchers at Boston University. And 83% of students said their mental health had negatively impacted their academic performance.

More From College Voices:
Advice to help college students struggling financially get back on track
Women in STEM: 3 Challenges we face ̶ and how to overcome them
Why Black and Latinx women are more likely to struggle with impostor syndrome

Students had difficulties with attention, focus and organization due to increased screen time from hybrid and remote online learning during the pandemic, said Dr. Ryan Patel, an Ohio State University psychiatrist and American College Health Association mental health chair-elect.

Managing isolation is another issue among students that he describes as a “twofold factor.”

“There are some students who are isolated as a result of the pandemic and then the opposite side of students thinking about being on campus and being around others and having some anxiety about social situations and things like that,” Patel said.

Dr. Owens feels that the removal of social activities, such as sororities, fraternities, sports and even late-night dorm room floor conversations, negatively affected students as well.

“A lot of students had the college experience that they were promised — that their parents had talked about for many, many years — torn out from under them,” Dr. Owens said. “So, they've been asked to deal with a lot in a very short period of time.”

“I realized I was really overwhelmed when I couldn't remember the last time I had really eaten a meal with my family, even though I've moved back home,” said Taylor Potter, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. “I'm constantly doing schoolwork or internship work for the multitude of internships and jobs that I have right now.”

Taylor Potter, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, Class of 2023Source: Justin Harper

In addition to being a full-time student, Potter worked five jobs during her time as an undergraduate. Now, as a graduate student, she has it down to just two.

Although Potter is thankful to be employed, she still struggles working around a jam-packed schedule.

“It becomes very isolating and overwhelming, knowing that I'm constantly, always, around the clock having to do work and not being able to socialize even with people who are one floor above me,” Potter said.

NYU sophomore Ryan Kawahara is also struggling with a heavy workload. He's a full-time student, works an off-campus part-time job, tutors and works for the NYU newspaper. 

“I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed because I like to take on projects and I like to do a lot of things and I feel like I'm more productive when I'm busy. But it's definitely daunting when I am looking at a list of things I need to do,” Kawahara said. “And it's just recently I've been feeling there's just not enough hours in the day.”

Ryan Kawahara, a sophomore at New York UniversitySource: Kent Kawahara

It's easy to get stuck in a never-ending loop of responsibilities, anxiety and stress. But that can take a toll on your mental health, your physical health – and your academic performance. So, it's important to try to manage your stress so it doesn't spiral out of control and affect your future.

An important first step is to acknowledge that you are stressed.

“A lot of times when people are overwhelmed, they don't recognize it until it becomes too much,” said Dr. Patel. “And so, we want to try to recognize it before it gets too much, before the tide is rising too high.”

“It was hard for me to admit that I needed a break because I'm the kind of person who is always like, 'No, I can do it. I can do it all. Let me take that on. Let me just do everything,” Potter said.

Like many students across the nation, Potter dealt with the stressful effects Covid had on her future. Her plans of graduating early last year, studying abroad and attending the Cannes Film Festival plummeted due to the Covid shutdown beginning in March 2020.

“I think I speak for a lot of college students when we say that things just got monumentally more stressful, and they were already monumentally stressful,” Potter said.

Through her experience, Potter offers help to others with similar circumstances.

“So, what advice I have to offer is to kind of take the situation by the reins,” Potter said. “You cannot control the situation necessarily, but you can control how you react to it — how you act in the mess of it all. That's the only thing you really have under your own control, especially in a situation like a global pandemic.”

Get organized

Patel advises students to physically write out all their plans, so they aren't jumbled in their heads.

And, while it may seem daunting at first, Kawahara has tried it and said it's not so intimidating and that the “satisfaction of crossing things off the list is really nice.”

“My dad would always say this to me: 'Get it out of your head because it's much clearer on paper,” Kawahara said.

Potter stays on top of work with the help of Google Calendar and her color-coordinated planner.

“Organization is absolutely key in helping to mitigate symptoms of stress and being overwhelmed,” Potter said.

Self-care is key

Patel says self-care is an important part of managing your stress, including healthy nutrition, proper sleep and regular exercise.

“You know, we're not immune to stressful things happening in our lives. What we can do, however, is manage how our body and mind processes that stress and the things that we can do to help decrease the stress reaction,” said Dr. Patel. “And so self-care is a critical aspect of that.”

And, Potter says she's found it's important to take time out for yourself.

 “You have to keep putting gas in your car in order for it to keep moving. And it's a similar concept to self-care,” Potter said. “Every couple of hundred miles you got to slow down and refuel essentially.”

Some ways Potter implements personal care into her daily life is eating three meals a day, watching her favorite TV shows and taking breaks throughout the day. She also utilizes a reward system to celebrate her accomplishments.

“I also try to take a pause any time something positive or good happens at a benchmark,” Potter said.

Kawahara, who is originally from California's San Francisco Bay Area, avidly runs in the New York City streets to take some of the stress away. Though he admits to still learning how to incorporate self-care in his life, he enjoys watching movies and shows, talking with friends and exploring Manhattan.

In addition, staying focused and taking “things one step at a time” helps Kawahara avoid any unwanted stress. He structures errands around meals to motivate him to work more effectively.

“Also at night, I try to have a cut off. I try not to work past a certain time because I just know that my quality work is going to decline,” Kawahara said.

That is one of the key tips from the American Psychological Association for building resilience to stress – getting a good night's sleep and sticking to a set bedtime.

Learn to say 'no'

And, while it isn't easy to say “no” – sometimes you have to do it.

“I guess you can prevent being overwhelmed by just being selective about how you choose to spend your time, and if it's not something that you really like to be doing, then maybe you don't do that as much,” Kawahara said.

Not only will saying “no” help lighten your workload, it will also give you a better sense of control, which is key to managing stress.

 “I actually had an opportunity to turn something down recently, which I think is a key kind of phrasing there, because being able to turn something down is an opportunity that implies that you have a choice,” Potter said.

Communicate with family and friends

Don't try to go it alone.

The American Psychological Association says it's important to maintain meaningful connections with family, culture and community. You might have left home to go to college, or you might have left college to go back home during the pandemic, but it's important to stay connected with family and friends.

And, when you're not doing well, it's important to communicate with friends, parents or relatives. Let the people around you know that you are feeling pressure. They can help support you.

Dr. Patel said this type of conversation could sound like the following: “You know, when I'm stressed, I might sound more irritable or negative or I might talk about my sleep or anxiety or physical complaints. So, if you notice that in me then you might want to let me know that those are some of the signs that I'm stressed.”

Give yourself a break

Sometimes we get caught up in what we think our perfect life will look like but the truth is, life is never perfect. Especially not in a pandemic. So, keep striving to do great things but also remember to be good to yourself.

“If things aren't going the way you want them to when you're overwhelmed, that's, OK. I think a lot of what we have to keep in mind right now is that a lot of us are not OK and that is OK right now,” Potter said. “Just remember to make sure that you're taking care of yourself, as you would be sure to take care of a friend or a family member who needed your help.”

Ask for help

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Reach out for help.

Call your university counseling center or health center. Talk to a resident adviser or a professor. They can help connect you with counselors who can help.

There are also a lot of organizations available to help you right now:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

The American Psychological Association (APA)

The American College Health Association (ACHA)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)

Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741)

Don't hesitate to reach out for help. We all need help sometimes.

CNBC's “College Voices″ is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about getting their college education, managing their own money and launching their careers during these extraordinary times. Victoria Bell was an intern with the CNBC Make It digital video department. She is a senior journalism major with a double minor in drama and dance at Hofstra University. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Inflation and omicron are weighing on markets. Here's what to keep in mind

The “Charging Bull” statue at Bowling Green in New York's Financial District.Drew Angerer | Getty Images As the U.S. stock market is whipped by rising inflation and the new omicron ... Read more »

Student-loan forgiveness would mean everything to Latinx students stuck in a debt cycle

The amount of student loan debt in the United States is $1.8 trillion dollars — and counting. The price to get an education has never been more expensive. The student ... Read more »

Three ways to invest in your employees in 2022

Customer second, employees first. That is the adage of Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group. A Gallup report says employees who are engaged are more likely ... Read more »

Never mind how Omicron blows, no shortage of economic forecasts

(NYTIMES) – The Omicron variant of the coronavirus could be dangerous enough to disrupt the lives of virtually everyone on the planet. Or it could represent a blip in a ... Read more »

Transforming Asia's food system to tackle our food and climate crises

Technology could help the agri-food sector transform by bolstering climate resiliency and sustainable food production. If you want more of what you like to eat, it’s time to think and ... Read more »

Here's what a lot of college grads don't know about their first job offer

Throughout our lives as students, we work hard to get a good education that will lead us to a solid job and fruitful career. But we aren't prepared for what ... Read more »

You need at least $1 million saved to retire in these cities

Sporrer/Rupp | Image Source | Getty Images How much do you think you'll need to save for retirement? If you're in one of these major cities, the answer will be ... Read more »

These are the five best states for drivers in 2021

Commuting doesn't have to be a bad thing. Ohio ranked as the best state for drivers in 2021, according to a study by Bankrate. The best states for drivers include ... Read more »

Smart moves to make with your retirement portfolio before the end of the year

Cravetiger | Moment | Getty Images As you make your to-do list to wrap up the year, don't forget to include checking on your retirement portfolio. There are several moves ... Read more »

Making New Year's resolutions during Covid has paid off: Fidelity survey

Uwe Krejci | Stone | Getty Images New Year's resolutions can be easy to make and even easier to break, but having a goal can help keep you upbeat and ... Read more »

Crypto is the 'top contender' for correction, money managers say

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – By many counts, 2021 was the year cryptocurrencies were finally embraced by institutions. Now those same money-managers say the asset class is ripe for a big ... Read more »

Figuring out these three budget numbers will help you pay off debt and save more for retirement in 2022

The start of a new year can be a great time to revisit your budget. Your first steps should be figuring out how much money you actually have and finding ... Read more »

Covid mortgage bailout is expiring. Here's what to do if you still can't pay

courtneyk | E+ | Getty Images Covid relief programs allowed millions of struggling Americans to pause mortgage payments, and many of those bailouts are now expiring, putting cash-strapped borrowers at ... Read more »

BlackRock, Goldman opt for China over more pricey India stocks

(Bloomberg) In a change of tone over the world’s two biggest emerging markets, global investors overseeing billions of dollars are slowly starting to favour China over India – reversing a ... Read more »

Inflation-proof gifts with your time and schmaltz

Consider the gifts of tech, travel and time, says the writer. (NYTIMES) If groceries, petrol or cars were any part of your budget this year, inflation has hit you hard. ... Read more »

Australia's $3.3 trillion pension pot reaps dividends with ESG

Australians are moving their money to reap not only benefits for society and the environment, but also their retirement savings. (BLOOMBERG) Responsible investing is paying dividends for Australia’s A$3.4 trillion ... Read more »

Investors snap up metaverse real estate in virtual land boom

A tower in Decentraland that Tokens.com hopes will generate revenue from leases and advertising. Digital realms may appear as cartoonish, gummy-coloured fantasy worlds, or digital applications of places we know. ... Read more »

Four keys that could unlock a better, more sustainable world

To reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, global investments in clean energy must triple by the end of the decade, says the International ... Read more »

How much you'll need to invest to earn $35,000, $40,000 or $50,000 per year in interest for retirement

Living off your investment returns can help remove one of the biggest fears about life after leaving your job: Will my money outlast me? Once you decide how much you ... Read more »

Did you work from home this year? When you can claim the home-office tax deduction

Did your “Great Resignation” lead you to start a business or become your own boss this year? You may be able to write off the cost of your home office ... Read more »

This is how you can make the world a better place as you invest

With the range of investment opportunities offered by Prudential, investors can protect and grow their wealth while playing their part to leave a better world for the future. Our roles, ... Read more »

Making sense of insurance amid uncertain times

With a wide range of insurance policies available, it is vital to understand the differences before you commit. Insurance is crucial to better prepare for life’s uncertainties. Paradoxically, the wide ... Read more »

How much you can expect to get from Social Security if you make $30,000, $35,000 or $40,000 per year

The largest Social Security cost-of-living adjustment increase in decades is set to go into effect in 2022. The 5.9% pay bump was meant to help seniors cover the cost of ... Read more »

How a government shutdown would affect your Dec. 15 child tax credit payment

lisegagne | E+ | Getty Images Millions of American families with kids are set to receive the last of six advance monthly child tax credit payments Dec. 15. Yet, just ... Read more »

This millennial saved $100,000 and quit her marketing job by age 25. Here's how she did it

Having an emergency fund should be a cornerstone of household budgets. Experts commonly recommend you have at least three months of expenses in savings to handle unexpected setbacks. But how ... Read more »

The metaverse, crypto and EVs are among 2021's big tech winners

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) – When Americans gather around the Thanksgiving table this week, the blistering rally in technology, electric vehicles and crypto-related stocks is likely to be a part of ... Read more »

7 ways college students can help save the environment — and not go broke

The environment is one of the top concerns for Gen Z — even amid a pandemic. And, while some products that are billed as sustainable cost more, there are a ... Read more »

Fintech tools take the guesswork out of investing

The recent integration of Central Depository investment data to the SGFinDex further democratises financial planning for investors of all levels. When the pandemic hit last year, human resources executive Ms ... Read more »

If you don't get a 6% raise, are you taking a pay cut due to inflation? Here's what experts say

A worker helps a customer at the Presidente Supermarket in Miami on April 13, 2020.Joe Raedle | Getty Images Workers across the U.S. are wondering how rising inflation might be ... Read more »

Suze Orman: Can you afford to join the Great Resignation? Answer these 5 questions

Charnchai | iStock | Getty Images Working is not working out for a record number of us. According to federal data, the number of people quitting has never been higher ... Read more »

How much you need to invest per month to retire with $500,000, $750,000 or $1 million, broken down by age

Saving for retirement traditionally takes more than 40 years of work. Given that kind of time, investing a little extra cash every month can pay off exponentially in the stock ... Read more »

As inflation rises, here's where to find opportunities to make and save money

LeoPatrizi | E+ | Getty Images Rising inflation has Americans worried about purchasing power and their retirement plans. Yet there are some opportunities to make and save money in this ... Read more »

The 'Great Resignation' may help you land your dream job. What to know

Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle | Getty Images Thinking of quitting your job soon? It may help you find a better gig. Many Americans are leaving their current employers ... Read more »

Temasek offers Singapore retail investors rare opportunity to buy its bonds

SINGAPORE – Temasek Holdings launched a $350 million five-year bonds sale on Monday (Nov 15), part of which will be available for purchase by retail investors in Singapore. The state ... Read more »

Seizing Asia's investment moment in an increasingly multipolar world

To effectively position for Asia’s long-term opportunities, it is vital for business leaders and investors to understand the context and the dynamics of underlying trends in the region and how ... Read more »

TikTok Resumes and Instagram portfolios: How college students are using social media to find jobs

College students are on social media pretty much every day but when it comes to their job search, more than a third said they don't use social media at all, ... Read more »

Better to be smart than lucky

“I’d rather be lucky than be smart!” A lecturer in fund management for my Master of Science in Applied Finance course used to repeat this mantra in class. He used ... Read more »

How investors can have more say

Big index fund companies such as BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Fidelity are typically among the largest shareholders of publicly traded companies. Yet their ultimate owners – the millions of ... Read more »

Risk of having too much cash on flights in US

Travellers wait to drop their baggage at Miami International Airport in September 2021. (NYTIMES) – Odd-job worker Kermit Warren had about US$30,000 (S$40,600) cash on him when he flew from ... Read more »

Tips to avoid online shopping scams

A steady rise in online card fraud in recent years accelerated during the pandemic as more people shopped on the Internet. (NYTIMES) – You are expected to do much of ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic