We’re at an interesting point in the semester that allows for a more realistic view on college life (a.k.a. the honeymoon phase is long gone), while also being still so early in the academic year that we haven’t reached the make-or-break point yet. However, as midterm grades roll in, a level of reality sinks in that grades are, in fact, still a thing. I don’t know if this is the same for everyone else, but at my college we don’t have a way to see our grades throughout the semester and it’s instead a waiting game for midterms and finals to be posted online.
This lack of clarity throughout the semester creates a subtle fear resting in the peripheral, which will take an adjustment for most people as grades for high school courses were able to be tracked twenty-four seven. As most of us are receiving midterms, and some of us are being induced into a state of panic, I thought there is no better time to recommend some anxiety relief resources that might actually help you cope with the anxiety you’re experiencing, and in turn chill the heck out.
1. D.E.A.C.: Drop Everything and Color
If you’re the type that responds best to pressure by not responding at all, this is the solution for you. Art therapy has for years been found as a great resource for solving emotional conflict, fostering awareness and also boosting self esteem. So it’s no mystery that adult coloring books have become all the rage in recent years. If you’re not particularly creatively inclined, coloring books are a great solution for you. When you’re finding yourself getting consumed with the stresses of sub-par grades or need to break up unbearable study sessions, pull out your favorite coloring book (mine are Lisa Frank or anything foliage-themed) and don't bother to stay inside the lines: there’s no rules in coloring book land.
2. Word Vomit
Even if your family’s divorce counselor ruined journaling with all of the cringe-inducing writing exercises she made you do, it’s actually really good for you when you want to do it. Journaling allows you to articulate all the gross feelings you’ve got going on and formally put them somewhere other than your head which allows for your brain to properly store information in its designated lobe (or whatever the terminology is, I’m an English major, okay?). I also find that journaling about specific problems allows for me to find a solution through all my rambling, and hashing it out viciously with a pen on paper helps me get my anger out which is always nice. If you want to make it more fun, buy yourself a nice journal and some fancy pens.
I know that they say exercise is a great stress reliever, but we all know that standing in a gym while you attempt to follow a "lazy girl workout routine" from your bookmarked Facebook posts will only make you even more anxious. However, taking to the open road on foot is a great way to compromise. Even if you’re horribly out of shape, walking is a good middle point. Not only are you able to take a step back from the books, but you also get a chance to get some fresh air in your lungs, some sun on your cheeks and a fair amount of think time. Walking has also been proven to lower blood pressure, improve balance and coordination, strengthen bones and prevent back pain. So put on your favorite podcast or playlist, or take advantage of the ambient sound, and take a walk (cue the 2012 Passion Pit hit single).
4. Call a Friend (Who Doesn't Go to Your College)
As someone who is an expert in internalizing and over analyzing things, this one always seems to slip my mind. However, calling a friend (or family member) is great for relieving stress. Whether you vent all your sorrows away or have a FaceTime "in your feelings" session, just talking things out with someone who knows and loves you is very soothing in times of turmoil.
Not only can they provide a rational, third party perspective on the issue at hand, but they probably know you well enough to tell you just what you need to hear to make it through. I suggest that it shouldn’t be a friend that goes to your college, because two or three months in, odds are people don’t know you like your friends back home yet. You’re already so submerged into the campus culture that it’s almost humbling to get out of that space and talk to a person who you aren’t around all the time. However, this is completely optional.
If you’ve already found your "wolf pack" so to speak, maybe think about getting dinner with them in a quiet corner or the dining hall and just talking it all out. Even if you’re the typical internalizer, you never know, when you get out of your own head you may just find someone going through the same thing who can suffer with you.
Although some of us are coming to terms with the fact that college is immensely stressful, just remember that your respective institution isn’t the end all be all. A grade doesn’t determine your worth or your potential for success. This is something I’ve had a hard time remembering in my first semester, but always note that whenever you’re having a freak out or find yourself in a slump. We’re all suffering to a degree, but just remember that it won’t last forever. And even though it sounds cheesy, every hardship you face only makes you stronger, and gets you another step further on the path to becoming a better college student!
(P.S. A wise friend once told me, "C’s get degrees." If all else fails, just remember that.)
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