How to Not Freak Out: College Edition
So, you’re starting college! That’s big time — big-time fun and, sometimes, big-time stress. Here are some tips about how to not freak out so you can take on whatever comes your way.
1. Use your support system to talk it out
Starting college can feel like a big adventure, but don’t forget to set up a good time for a phone call with special people at home. Have someone you can call to help you through a tough week, listen to worries you wouldn’t share with anyone else and remind you it’s all going to work out.
2. Get regular sleep
Getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night and building in one hour of screen-free time right before bed is key to keeping your stress level low. That means setting a record Snapstreak with your bestie right before bed isn’t the greatest idea. The science: blue light from your device and the dopamine (feel-good hormone) produced by your Snapstreak actually inhibit the production of melatonin (the go-to-sleep hormone), reducing your quality of sleep. When you don’t get quality sleep, the next day is just a slog. Too many sleep-deprived days will make you feel out of sorts and sensitive to things that normally don’t bother you.
Exercise! Get swole! Run! No matter the activity, the benefits are endless — a restful night’s sleep, boosted mood, more oxygen to the brain. You might even do better on that midterm! Exercise is also proven to reduce feelings of depression and counteract stress. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and it’s not just running on a treadmill (but it could be if that’s your thing). Join an intramural or club sport — Quidditch, anyone? — or spend time on the climbing wall at the Student Rec Center. You could play basketball or sand volleyball outside Wallace or go for a walk in the arboretum. Moscow has four seasons, which will help you mix up your activities whenever you want.
4. Get involved
Find your people. College is great for finding people who share your interests, especially at U of I where you have more than 200 student clubs and organizations to discover. Getting involved will help you make friends who help you feel more connected. And guess what? Feeling more connected helps you feel better.
5. Stay organized
Trying to find a lost piece of work when your room is a disaster is nobody’s idea of a good time. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. It could be as simple as putting your bag on your chair and your homework on the desk, or as creative as bullet journaling and color coding. It’s your system. Do it your way.
6. Check in with your advisor and use professor office hours
Your advisor wants to hear from you frequently. Checking in will help you stay on top of classwork, and you’ll be able to find help as you need it. Your advisor is able to look into your academic record and help you navigate your next steps. You’ll also be able to ask questions about hard courses and get the right help at the right time before you feel too stressed about anything. Make sure to take advantage of your professor’s office hours when you have questions, too.
7. Try not to get hangry
When you’re hungry, you make poor decisions. When you’re hangry, you make really poor decisions. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snack in between meals if needed. Try to eat a good combination of lean protein, fruit, vegetables and grains in reasonable amounts.
But by all means, if you need to, freak out. Just freak out safely!