College doesn’t equal stress: Learning to relax in college

“School is everything.”

This might be a common phrase that you hear once you get into college, and the people saying that aren’t necessarily wrong. You’re here for a purpose: to achieve your goals and pursue a career that you’ll thrive in.

But here’s something people might not have told you: Don’t take college so seriously. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have written that.

Here’s the thing: College is an important time in your life — a time you can explore and find out more about yourself. It’s also a foundation for starting your career.

I took school extremely seriously to an unhealthy level. I devoted all of my time to it; I made friends, but I would have much rather studied than hung out with them. I became stressed over the little things, although I tried my best. I would study for hours and still not feel satisfied with my progress. I wanted to make my family proud — who supported me in everything I did — and I wanted to make sure that once I left this place, I would have a great job to start my career.

During my undergraduate years, I had been obsessed with school; it’s all I cared about. I overloaded myself with classes and extracurriculars when I didn’t have to. Would I be who am I today if I didn’t do that? Probably not, because I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about it.

I was burned out. Better yet, I burned myself out. Here is how you can avoid burnout during your college experience.

After the all-nighters, lack of socializing and keeping all of this pressure inside — as some professors called me “The Pressure Cooker” — my mental health declined slowly yet rapidly, sending me into a spiral. I lost my sense of self, and I didn’t really have people around me at college to remind myself of who I am. There were a few, but I didn’t reach out to them as much as I should have. My family definitely helped, but they lived two hours away. I didn’t know how to tell people what I was feeling, so I just kept it to myself. I eventually developed physical health issues as well because of it. It wasn’t until my senior year when a few mentors of mine told me it’s alright to get it all out, and I did.

It’s important to make friends and have people you can trust in college. It took me a long time to find those people, but I finally have; they remind me of who I am daily. I’m finally appreciating life and all it has to offer. Sure, it’s not perfect and there will be bumps along the way but I know that whatever gets thrown at me, I’ll be able to handle it because of my support system. Focus on school but don’t be afraid to have some fun. My parents gave me some advice when I was a freshman here at Kent State, and I wished I listened to them sooner.

“Have a balance of school and fun because if you don’t, you’ll go mad. We don’t want that.”

Seven ways to destress and relax

  1. Get enough sleep 
  2. Exercise more
  3. Walk away when you begin to feel frustrated
  4. Prioritize what matters to you 
  5. Make time for yourself
  6. Do what makes you happy
  7. Find hobbies that help relax you 

Resources for mental health services

Kent State Psychological Services: 330-672-2487

University Health Services 24-hour Nurse Line: 330-672-2326

Coleman Professional Services: 330-296-3555

Townhall II Helpline: 866-449-8518

National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800-273-8255

The Trevor Lifeline: Preventing Suicide Among LGBTQ Youth: 866-488-7386

Mental Health and Recovery Board crisis hotline: 330-296-3555 or 330-678-4357

Crisis Text line: Text 4Hope to 741741