Whether you are entering college for the first time or returning to campus for a new year, it is natural to have a range of feelings and emotions – especially now as we continue to navigate the changing landscape of a pandemic.
Excitement, nervousness, and fear of the unknown may all be felt at some point within the first month, first semester, or first year of college. These feelings and emotions may be amplified as students balance classes, work, making friends, joining clubs and organizations, all while staying safe and well.
During times of change and challenges like a pandemic, it’s important to maintain a healthy routine and be sure you are taking care of the basics. Below are several reminders for college students as they balance the many responsibilities and commitments they have on their plates:
Get Enough Sleep
Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep. Be sure to silence electronic devices before bedtime, and do not use your bed as a study and work area. Try to maintain the same time you go to bed and wake up each day for maximum performance inside and outside of the classroom.
Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, three to five days a week. Physical activity increases mood and decreases feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It also aids in the quality of sleep.
Focus on proper and balanced nutrition, limiting and avoiding sugar and caffeine intake, especially close to bedtime.
Avoid Substance Abuse
Substances like alcohol and others can alter your decision-making and negatively impact your academic progress and relationships with others. These undesired outcomes may add to the feelings of anxiety and stress, so it may be best to avoid them. Since our legal drinking age is 21, underage drinking can also become a costly legal issue.
Maintain proper hydration. Always keep a water bottle nearby. You don’t want to wait until you are thirsty to consume water.
Find and implement effective time management and organizational techniques to help you stay on track and minimize procrastination. Limiting time on social media until after your “productive” time is one strategy many find effective. Others find their local campus academic support center can provide additional assistance.\
Seek Out Campus Resources
If you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, anxious, or hopeless, please be sure to seek out campus mental health services and resources to support you in your time of need. Many counseling centers offer a variety of in-person and telehealth services and resources in order to meet students where they are most comfortable.
Find Time for Self-Care
Other self-care strategies include journaling, mindful meditation, engaging in enjoyable hobbies and activities, listening to upbeat music, engaging in art such as coloring and painting, spending time in nature, with pets, and with friends and family members.
Your college and your community have a wide variety of helpful resources and helpful people who care about your well-being and are ready to help. Click around on our YourCollegeCares.org to find some of those resources.
Graciously submitted by our friends at the University of South Florida.