For many of us, all we heard about college from the adults in our lives before we got here was that it will be, “the greatest time of our lives.” What they failed to mention, was the physical and mental roller coaster of a journey that we were going to embark on.
Everyone loves to highlight the great parts of our lives; making new friends, finding your passion in life, going to parties, enjoying freedom and so much more. And they’re not wrong, college is amazing. But, intentional or not, the bad somehow seems to be left out.
The stressful nights of homework and paper writing fail to make the cut. Spending all night studying for an exam – to still not be pleased with the grade – isn’t mentioned either. And the pain of losing upper classman friends to graduation is a forgotten afterthought.
The craziest part of all of this is that you can experience all these different emotions in the same week or even the same day. Early mornings with classes and exams can easily turn into long afternoons and nights spent with friends and peers.
All of this can be extremely taxing on both body and mind over time. According to a study done at Harvard Medical School, constant stress can lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage.
For both mental health, as well as physical health, it is vital for college students to acknowledge and deal with the highs and lows in college. If we really want to make the most out of our time in college, trying to pretend it is all bliss 24 hours a day isn’t going to cut it. Self-care is important.
College students should set realistic expectations for what they expect they semester long journey to be, factoring in both the good and the bad. Doing so will truly allow us to live in the good moments while not being crushed internally by the bad ones.
Being realistic and prepared also permits you plan out how to make the bad moments a little less bad. For example, knowing you will need an extra hour of sleep goes a long way towards making your next day a little bit easier. And trust me, there’s not a single college student who will say otherwise.
Finding a healthy release from the stress of college is another game changer. Being able to take a break from being a college student, even if it’s just for a short period of time, can do wonders for your journey on this emotional rollercoaster. Whether it’s an hour in the gym or a four-hour hike in the mountains, finding an escape is a lifesaver in college. It could also be something as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep. According to research done at the University of Surrey, patients who got an extra hour of had changes in genetic expressions that helped, protect against diabetes, cancer, inflammation and stress.
The rollercoaster of emotions that is college is one that is exciting, yet challenging. Some days it makes you feel superhuman while others it makes you question your self-worth. But with preparation, we can make these years “the greatest time of our lives.”