One recent study found that 88% of college students experience chronic stress during their academic tenure.
It’s not uncommon for college students to turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, which can develop into an addiction and other mental health problems.
Knowing what to expect in college and having tools for handling the stressors that are almost guaranteed to pop up can go a long way in contributing to an overall successful college experience.
Common Stressors For College Students
There are a number of common experiences in college that can lead to feelings of stress in students, whether they are temporary situations or ongoing problems.
Financial difficulties are one of the most frequent sources of stress among college students, particularly for those who have to work while in school or take out student loans.
Other common stressors related to students’ newfound independence include dealing with roommates and building friendships and relationships with new people.
College coursework is often much harder than what students have experienced previously, and it can be challenging to learn how to navigate exams, studying, or writing papers.
Recognizing Chronic Stress And Anxiety
If you’re concerned about your or a loved one’s mental health during college, there are some ways to identify extreme stress so that it can be managed in a healthy way.
Signs and symptoms of chronic stress may include:
- anxiety or irritability
- muscle pain or aches
- panic attacks
- digestive problems
- sleeping too much or not enough
- high blood pressure
- using sex, drugs, or alcohol excessively to cope
Ways To Manage Stress In College
Chronic stress can have both physical and mental effects and feel overwhelming. However, there are some simple, healthy ways to manage it.
1. Follow A Healthy Diet
College students often neglect to eat healthily due to busy schedules and may turn to quick, easy meals with little nutritional value.
Eating at least one well-balanced meal a day, with vegetables, protein, and a whole grain, is a great way to maintain mental and physical health.
If you like to snack while studying, try eating healthier snacks like seeds, nuts, or fruit.
2. Keep A Routine
It can be challenging to maintain a consistent routine in college. Classes tend to vary each day, and adding work, extracurriculars, and a social life can disrupt routines further.
However, it’s important to aim to go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule. Incorporating consistent exercise, hygiene, and meal times into your day can also help.
3. Exercise Regularly
Speaking of exercise, studies have repeatedly demonstrated the positive effects that exercise has on mental health as well as physical health.
Not all exercise needs to be strenuous. Going for walks, practicing yoga, or simply stretching or doing jumping jacks during study breaks are all effective forms of movement.
4. Maintain Healthy Relationships
Going to college in an unfamiliar area and building new friendships can be a challenging and isolating experience, so maintaining contact with loved ones at home is a good way to bolster social support.
You can keep in touch with friends and family members from your hometown by scheduling regular calls or visits.
Some college students struggle with making new friends, especially those who don’t live on campus. Joining clubs or teams is a good way to meet people with similar interests.
5. Avoid Substance Use
It’s no secret that drug and alcohol use are rampant on college campuses throughout the U.S. Another outlet for stress, such as sports or hobbies, can help prevent substance abuse.
As a college student, you will probably face peer pressure to drink or use drugs, and having a plan in place for handling these situations can prevent rash, unhealthy decisions.
6. Identify Mental Health Resources
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of college students seeking counseling and other mental health resources on campuses nationwide.
The first symptoms of mental health disorders like depression or social anxiety often appear during college, and knowing where to go for help can be a source of comfort and support.
Try reaching out to your on-campus resources. If they are unable to help, they can direct you to off-campus counseling centers, rehab clinics, and other services.
Understanding Stress In College
One of the most effective ways to help college students manage stress and avoid substance use is to provide them with education on mental health issues.
Education is critical for combatting mental health and addiction stigmas by letting students know that there is nothing to be ashamed of if they are struggling.
Get Help For A Substance Use Disorder
If you or a loved one is facing drug addiction or alcohol abuse, you are not alone. Contact us today to learn more about your recovery options.
Published on August 16, 2023
Free Rehab Centers aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Cleveland Clinic
- National Library of Medicine
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)