Tips and tricks to maintain balance and reduce stress

Stress and anxiety are the top reasons college students seek therapy

By Madison Morris ’23, MS ‘24 March 01, 2023

Stock photo of individuals talking to one another

The secret to a healthy mind is a healthy body which can be achieved by prioritizing balance, said the director for counseling services, Christine Chew, PhD.  

Quick tips for reducing stress:

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Pick a strategic study spot
  • Plan for regular study breaks
  • Participate in activities that bring joy

Chew recognizes that managing anxiety can easily become overwhelming for college students and provides helpful tips and tricks for students looking to bolster their mental health.

Chew stressed how important studying can be for a student’s success and how they are not alone in this effort; many other students are working toward the same goals, she added.

“During midterms and finals, make studying your main job,” she said. “Think ahead and clear your schedule of as many other obligations the week before and during exams as you can so that you can prepare adequately and focus on your exam prep for whatever time you need. Study in a similar setting to the setting in which you will take the exam. You are more likely to recall information if you stored it while in a similar space and state of mind.”

Chew explained that studying non-stop is neither beneficial nor healthy for mental well-being. She rather suggests taking planned study breaks.

“Give yourself permission to take a pre-determined amount of time to do the things that bring you joy without feeling guilty about taking the breaks,” she said. “Balance is key.”

Balance consists of many things, explained Chew, including eating and sleeping well and staying hydrated. In addition, she suggests checking in with people who act as one’s support system for perspective during stressful moments.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help in managing your anxiety if it becomes overwhelming,” said Chew. “Stress and anxiety are the number one reason that college students seek therapy and it’s a major reason that counseling centers exist on campus.”

While earning the perfect score is idolized by many, this is not something that should be constantly focused on, said Chew.

“Be aware of what you need to get on the final to get a decent grade in the class,” she said. “Focus on that as your goal rather than stressing about earning a perfect score. Be OK with ‘good enough’ as no one in life beyond college will ever ask what you got on your calculus final.”

The Counseling Center is one of the many resources students have on campus that can help navigate feelings of anxiety. The center offers provider evaluations, individual therapy, medication management, group therapy and couple’s therapy. Students are seen for a variety of reasons including depression, anxiety, family challenges, roommate problems, homesickness, motivation issues, and more, explained Chew.

“If you feel like you are struggling, seek help early,” she said. “Don’t wait until you are totally overwhelmed before you seek help. Sometimes you can feel significantly better after a session or two of checking in with someone and hitting your own reset button. But college brings ongoing stressors for many students and there is no shame in sustaining the support for as long as you need it.”

The Counseling Center hosts the following regular events:

  • Stress Less hours – second Thursdays of the month from 11 a.m. to noon  – Mount Carmel Health and Wellness Center near Shake Smart
  • Mental Health Check ins – fourth Thursdays of the month from 11 a.m. to noon – Mount Carmel Health and Wellness Center near Shake Smart
  • Stress Less hours – second Tuesdays of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – North Haven Dining Hall
  •  Mental Health Check ins – fourth Tuesdays of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – North Haven Dining Hall

Students interested in accessing Counseling Services can call 203-407-4020 and select option No. 1 , email, or walk into the Counseling Center and request to be seen.

The Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counselors are also available to speak with students by phone after hours by dialing 203-407-4020 and selecting option #3.

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