Fall Semester
Remember to take care of yourself and your mental health, not just your grades. (Illustration by Jessica Shaklee, University of Georgia)

College is the place where you socialize, go on adventures with friends and, sometimes, it’s the place where you find yourself. It’s also where you’ll feel stressed beyond your limits, and that’s okay, because it happens to everyone. What’s important is to make sure you know how to take care of yourself when times get stressful. It’s something we should all remember as the fall semester creeps closer. Taking a whole lot of classes can be good for some students, but a nightmare for others.

Personally, I try not to take more than 12 credits a semester; one time, I took 14 credits and it was the worst, because I was also working part-time, and finding downtime felt impossible. This fall semester, however, I will be taking more than my usual number of credits again, so I think it’s a good idea to share some tips on how not to burn out, especially if you’re new to the college scene.

If you’re taking more than 12 credits this coming fall semester and you’re panicking, don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. There are a lot of ways to make sure you pass your classes, while also making time for yourself. In moments of stress, it can be hard to even think about downtime, but it’s important to keep in mind. Constantly trying to juggle all your classes and assignments, without taking a break every now and then, will make life seem more overwhelming.

During the fall semester, try to keep these tips in mind; it’ll be more beneficial for you in the long run, even if a few of them might seem like they won’t help, and you’ll be surprised at how efficient they can be.

Studies have shown that the best ways to keep your mental and physical health in check during college are using your school’s counseling services, sleeping and socializing. If you’re feeling mentally drained, counseling services are great because you can vent and allow yourself to open up about the things that are bothering you without feeling ashamed about it. And if you feel as though your mental health is suffering because of all the stress and chaos, counseling would be a good start.

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While it seems that it might be impossible to catch eight hours of sleep in college, it’s important to remember that you can’t really function without sleep. Being well-rested has its benefits: It gives us the energy to get through the day and fights off fatigue, and it’s been shown that college students who have an irregular sleep schedule are more prone to depression and anxiety. (If you find yourself struggling to get 6-10 hours of sleep, try these helpful sleeping tips.)

Socializing is a great way to fight off the stress of academics. Call up your friends and plan a movie night or a fun night out on the town. It’s always great to have people you can talk to about anything, especially the stresses of college life, and, chances are, your friends are just as stressed as you are and have been looking for something fun to do. (Just make sure your grades don’t suffer for it.)

Having hobbies is another good way to take your mind off the stress of your classes. Whether you like drawing, listening to music, writing, being with friends or just having some alone time, it’s important to have some time where you don’t feel anxious about school. I’ve found that listening to music is a great way for me to de-stress, so find what works for you and make time for it, because it’ll help your mental health in the long run.

Exercising is a great method for fighting off stress, so if you’re able to make the time to hit the gym, or even just go for a walk, do it. It’s a way to remove yourself from whatever is stressing you out. If you’re more interested in the gym, a quick run on a treadmill should help decrease the amount of stress you’re feeling.

Cleaning your room can also help you de-stress. You can put some of your favorite songs and get to it, and before you know it, you’ll be distracted from your stress for a bit. Even if cleaning isn’t your thing, you’ll be surprised what good it can do; just find some headphones and start picking up the clutter around your room, and go from there.

Lastly, another great tip is to do your laundry. It might not sound like a lot of fun, but it will get you off your feet and it will get you moving. Not only will you be distracted, you’ll also be productive by taking a mental break from all the stressors that are bugging you, while also helping to maintain your own personal hygiene.

College can be a fun time, but it can also cause your mental health to suffer. It’s always a good idea to check in with yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and take a break to de-stress. Hopefully, the above tips are helpful when you find yourself feeling anxious or down.

Find what works for you, and stick with it. Even though it can be difficult to forget about the pressures of college life even for a moment, it’s a good idea to try anyway, for just a bit. It’s not good to burn yourself out, and it can have long-term effects on your mental and physical health if you don’t take it easy on yourself.

Enjoy this fall semester and have fun, but also keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself. After all, you can’t socialize with your friends if you’re feeling completely drained.

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