Manage Your Stress this Semester

By Sarah Lalond

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 61 percent of college students report feeling anxious. The percentage is likely higher, as these are the students who sought counseling and were able to report their feelings.

Stress is building on campuses nationwide and has increased 45 percent from the 2009-2010 academic year to 2014-2015 school year, according to the APA.

Tim Paquette, the Assistant Director of Counseling and Consultation Services, says that stress is evident when students aren’t sleeping well, eating on regular basis and are unable to concentrate.

A step to diffuse stress is to be committed to a regular schedule of eating and sleeping. It’s also important to be taking care of your physical and social health by exercising and spending time with friends.

This holistic approach to improving your mental health starts with knowing your limits and recognizing when you’ve reached them.

An unconventional way to reduce stress in your life is through mindful meditation. It involves consciously choosing to slow down and focus on the present by drawing your attention to your breath.

This rejuvenating type of mediation can help you set your priorities and manage stress. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) and RecWell have group meditation during their Mindful Mondays at 5 p.m. in the GSRC conference room.

Part of dealing with stress is recognizing the impact of how your spend your time. While social media is an opportunity to keep up with long-distance friendships and laugh, there is a potential for negativity.

Students can get caught up in FOMO, or fear of missing out, which creates a dangerous cycle of obsession. Despite the connectivity social media can give us, it’s a poor substitute for having a face to face conversation.

It’s beneficial to not only recognize the effects of your actions and your feelings, but to be able to express them to another person. Deep, interpersonal conversations with a supportive friend can help you to figure out how to react to situations and talk through your stress.

NIU has a resource for stressed out students through Counseling and Consultation Services. Based on answers to a short questionnaire, students can be paired with someone from a diverse staff of psychologists, social workers and counselors, or placed in a group therapy setting.

The initial consultation is as “student friendly as possible,” Paquette said. There’s no need to call in advance. Walk-ins are welcome at Counseling and Consultation Services Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Taking the first step to diffuse stress is important, but so is being consistent. Even when life gets busy, prioritize setting aside time for self-reflection to stop the stress from becoming overwhelming.