College life can be stressful as students try to juggle schoolwork, work, internships, extracurricular activities, and their social lives — all while living on their own, often for the first time. And while the pandemic added an extra layer of stress to all of us, young adults were hit harder than other generations.
“While older people are being hit hardest by the actual biological and physical problems that Covid brings, younger people are being hit much harder by Covid’s mental health issues,” said Dr. Shane Owens, the campus assistant principal and psychologist. for Farmingdale State College.
In a 2021 American Psychological Association survey, 46% of Gen Z adults (aged 18-23) said their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic, compared with 33% of Gen Xers, 31% of Millennials and 28% of the boomers. .
Half of college students reported experiencing anxiety and/or depression in a recent survey of nearly 33,000 college students across the country conducted by researchers at Boston University. And 83% of students said their mental health negatively impacted their academic performance.
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Students had problems with attention, focus and organization because of increased screen time from hybrid and online distance learning during the pandemic, said Dr. Ryan Patel, an Ohio State University psychiatrist and president of the American College Health Association’s Mental Health Association.
Managing isolation is another problem among students that he describes as a ‘dual factor’.
“There are some students who are isolated because of the pandemic and then the other side of the students who are thinking about being on campus and being around others and having some fear about social situations and things like that,” Patel said. .
dr. Owens believes that the removal of social activities such as sororities, sororities, sports, and even nighttime conversations on the floor of a dorm room also negatively impacts students.
“Many students had snatched the college experience they were promised—which their parents had talked about for many, many years—from among them,” said Dr. Owens. “So they’ve been asked to do a lot in a very short time.”
“I realized I was really overwhelmed when I couldn’t remember the last time I actually had dinner with my family, even though I moved back home,” said Taylor Potter, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. “I’m constantly doing schoolwork or internship work for the multitude of internships and jobs I have now.”
In addition to being a full-time student, Potter held five jobs during her time as a student. Now, as a graduate student, she’s narrowed it down to just two.
Although Potter is grateful to be employed, she still struggles with a busy schedule.
“It gets very isolating and overwhelming knowing that I have to constantly, always, work around the clock and not be able to socialize even with people who are a floor above me,” Potter said.
NYU sophomore Ryan Kawahara also struggles with a heavy workload. He is a full-time student, has a part-time job off campus, tutors and works for the NYU newspaper.
“I started to feel a little overwhelmed because I like taking on projects and I like to do a lot of things and I feel like I’m more productive when I’m busy. But it’s absolutely disheartening when I go to a list of things to do.” do,” said Kawahara. “And it’s only recently that I feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day.”
It’s easy to get stuck in an endless loop of responsibilities, anxiety, and stress. But that can negatively impact your mental health, your physical health — and your academic performance. So it’s important to try to manage your stress so it doesn’t get out of hand and affect your future.
An important first step is recognizing that you are stressed.
“Often when people are overwhelmed, they don’t recognize it until it gets too much,” said Dr. patella. “And so we want to try and spot it before it gets too much, before the tide gets too high.”
“It was hard for me to admit I needed a break because I’m the kind of person who always says, ‘No, I can do it. I can do it all. Let me take that on. everything,” said Potter.
Like many students across the country, Potter coped with the stressful effects Covid was having on her future. Her plans to graduate, study abroad and attend the Cannes Film Festival early last year collapsed as a result of the Covid shutdown that began in March 2020.
“I think I speak for a lot of students when we say that things have gotten hugely more stressful and they were already hugely stressful,” Potter said.
Through her experience, Potter offers help to others with similar circumstances.
“So what I can advise you is to take the situation a little bit by hand,” Potter said. “You can’t necessarily control the situation, but you can control how you react to it — how you act in the mess of it all. That’s the one thing you really have under control, especially in a situation like a global pandemic.”
Is being organised
Patel recommends that students write down all their plans physically so they’re not in their heads.
And while it may seem daunting at first, Kawahara tried it, saying it’s not that intimidating and that the “satisfaction of crossing things off the list is really nice.”
“My father used to say this to me: ‘Get it out of your head, because it’s much clearer on paper,’ Kawahara said.
Potter stays in the loop using Google Calendar and her color-coordinated planner.
“Organization is definitely key to reducing symptoms of stress and overwhelm,” Potter said.
Self care is key
Patel says self-care is an important part of managing your stress, including a healthy diet, good sleep, and regular exercise.
“You know, we’re not immune to stressful things that happen in our lives. However, what we can do is manage how our bodies and minds process that stress and the things we can do to reduce the stress response,” said Dr. Patel . “And so self-care is a critical aspect of that.”
And Potter says she’s found it important to take time for yourself.
“You have to keep accelerating in your car to keep driving. And it’s a similar concept to self-care,” Potter said. “Every few hundred miles you have to slow down and refuel.”
Some of the ways Potter implements personal grooming in her daily life is by eating three meals a day, watching her favorite TV shows, and taking breaks throughout the day. She also uses a reward system to celebrate her achievements.
“I also try to take a break whenever something positive or good happens at a benchmark,” Potter said.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, Kawahara eagerly rushes through the streets of New York City to relieve some of the stress. While he admits to still learning how to integrate self-care into his life, he enjoys watching movies and shows, chatting with friends, and exploring Manhattan.
In addition, Kawahara helps to stay focused and “take things step by step” to avoid unwanted stress. He structures messages around meals to motivate him to work more effectively.
“I also try to have a break at night. I try not to work after a certain amount of time because I just know that my quality work will diminish,” Kawahara said.
That’s one of the American Psychological Association’s top tips for building resilience to stress — getting a good night’s sleep and sticking to a regular bedtime.
Learn to say ‘no’
And while it’s not easy to say ‘no’, sometimes you have to.
“I think you can avoid getting overwhelmed by just being selective about how you want to spend your time, and if it’s not something you really enjoy doing, then maybe you don’t do it all that much,” Kawahara said.
Not only will saying ‘no’ ease your workload, it will also give you a better sense of control, which is essential for coping with stress.
“I recently had the opportunity to reject something, which I think is an important formulation because being able to reject something is an opportunity that implies you have a choice,” Potter said.
Communicate with family and friends
Don’t try to do it alone.
The American Psychological Association says it’s important to maintain meaningful connections with family, culture, and community. You may have left home to attend college during the pandemic, or you may have left college to return home during the pandemic, but it’s important to keep in touch with family and friends.
And if things aren’t going well for you, it’s important to communicate with friends, parents, or relatives. Let the people around you know that you feel pressured. They can help support you.
dr. Patel said these types of conversations can sound like this: “You know, when I’m stressed, I might sound more irritable or negative or talk about my sleep or anxiety or physical complaints. So if you notice that in me, you want to maybe let me know those are some of the signs I’m stressed.”
Give yourself a break
Sometimes we get caught up in what we think our perfect life will look like, but the truth is that life is never perfect. Certainly not in a pandemic. So keep striving to do great things, but also remember to be kind to yourself.
“If things don’t go the way you want when you’re overwhelmed, that’s okay. I think a lot of what we need to keep in mind right now is that a lot of us aren’t okay and that’s okay now,” Potter said “Remember to make sure you take care of yourself, as you would certainly take care of a friend or family member who needed your help.”
Ask for help
If you feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Call in help.
Call your university counseling center or health center. Talk to a resident advisor or professor. They can help you get in touch with advisors who can help you.
There are also many organizations that can help you right now:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
The American Psychological Association (APA)
The American College Health Association (ACHA)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
Crisis Text Line (SMS HOME to 741741)
Do not hesitate to seek help. We all need help sometimes.
CNBCsCollege votes″ is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about earning college degrees, managing their own money, and launching their careers in these extraordinary times. Victoria Bello intern at the digital video division of CNBC Make It. She is a senior in journalism with a double minor in drama and dance at Hofstra University. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.