Okay, you are finally here! You have had some time to settle into your new life as a “post-secondary” student. Maybe it’s not all that you imagined, or maybe it’s more than you bargained for?
This is one of the BIGGEST times of transition that you will experience in a lifetime, so if you are having some problems managing, then you are definitely not alone! Think of everything that is new…academic changes (new type of learning, new expectations, new environment), social changes (new friends, exposure to new ideas/types of people), and personal changes (living on your own, a new city, financial stress). It’s no wonder that you may be feeling overwhelmed!!
How are you feeling so far? Maybe everything felt new and exciting for the first few weeks as you met tons of new people and experienced living on your own for the first time! Perhaps now that you have begun to settle into the semester, you are feeling more anxious as midterms approach, and homesick as you begin to miss your old friends and family back home. Perhaps you feel like you don’t really belong here and that everyone else is handling things better than you. These are very common feelings among first year students and usually they settle out as the semester progresses and you learn the skills to do well here. For some students, these feelings of anxiety can intensify to levels that are problematic to daily functioning and feelings of sadness can turn into depression. In these cases, it is very important to get help before things get worse.
Tips to manage it all:
1.) Realize that you are not alone and what you are feeling is normal.
2.) Access supports. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Supports include: family and friends, as well as supports on campus such as Counselling Services, Professors, Resident Advisors, Health Centre staff, Student Finance and Scholarships, Student Union Clubs, etc.
3.) Be proactive! Things don’t have to be horrible for you to ask for help. It is better if you access supports early in the game.
4.) Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust. It takes a while to learn how to be a “post-secondary” student and to manage all the changes.
5.) Make your self-care a priority. It is all too common for students to let their self-care go when time is tight. Our ability to cope and perform academically is impacted by basic self care such a getting adequate sleep (8-10 hours/night), maintaining a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.
6.) Maintain balance. Making time for work, play and self-care can be a balancing act. Students who put all their time and energy into their studies can actually be at a disadvantage. It is important to refuel with rest, relaxation and fun! As a general rule of thumb, treat your education like a full time job. If you are a full time student, you want to look at putting approximately 40 hours/week into your studies. Spend the rest of your time taking care of yourself.
7.) Make connections. Join a club on campus, form study groups with people in your classes, join an activity, pursue a hobby, volunteer; first and foremost, try smiling and making eye contact!