Maintaining the Balance: A Self-Help Guide for Students



When you graduate from high school, you think that you have the world in your hands, and that college is going to be a breeze. Then, you get to college, and you discover that there is a lot more to it than you ever even imagined. You don’t have teachers on your back to get things done. You are responsible for your own successes and failures.

In addition to your actual education, there are so many other things going on in your life once you are in college. Obviously, you want to have a great social life. You also need to look after your health. Then, there are going to be career choices to make. All of this can weigh heavy on your mind after a while, and you could get pretty stressed out. You need to find ways to maintain a balance of everything that is going on in your life. Here are some tips that will help.


Coping with Stress

“One of the first things you will need to learn as a college student is how to cope with stress. There are many things that students do that are totally ineffective, such as substance abuse, which can lead to aggressive behaviour, developing eating disorders,” says Dr. Mila Cohen. Instead of focusing on the ineffective, try these effective coping strategies:

  • Your Feelings – Take time to explore and understand your feelings.
  • Your Thoughts – Next, take time to identify your thoughts, and to take control of them.
  • Support – Don’t be ashamed to ask for support if you need it. Talk about your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, such as a close friend, a professor, a peer counselor, etc.

Trust Your Feelings

The stress we experience as students can often be overwhelming, but you can deal with it when you learn how to listen to and trust your own feelings. First, you need to understand the types of negative feelings you are having, which for students tend to fall into three main categories:

  • Anxiety – You can probably relate to this around exam times. Anxiety causes people to feel nervous, vulnerable, fearful, not in control, etc.
  • Depression – If you find yourself feeling hopeless, sad, not worthy, or feel like a failure, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • Anger – When you don’t think that things are going your way, which can often be the case in college, you may experience feelings of anger.

Once you are aware of your feelings, you can take some time to work on them and deal with any issues you may be having.


Thinking Rationally

While it may sometimes seem impossible to think rationally (such as when you are cramming for finals), there are things that you can do to improve the way you see things, and that emotional balance in your life.

  • Focus on the Now – Don’t focus on the past, or what might happen in the future. Keep your focus on what you are doing right now.
  • Stick to the Facts – Just because you did poorly on one test doesn’t mean that you are going to do poorly on all of your tests. Don’t make more out of it than what it is.
  • Be Realistic – Don’t jump to conclusions about things, and be realistic in how you perceive situations. For instance, if a professor has grilled you in class, don’t automatically think that they are out to get you. Think about why they grilled you, and how you can do better the next time.
  • Be Optimistic – Don’t be the naysayer in your group, and don’t always try to predict failure. You need to be optimistic about your college career, and about everything else that is going on in your life.

Gordon Schorr is an online educator and creative writer. 

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