Coping with the Stress of Current Crises in College

Coping with the Stress of Current Crises in College

Uncertainty brings higher levels of distress to students

The latter half of any semester can be stress inducing, with papers and project due dates fast approaching and finals looming. Add a politically divisive election, social unrest, and a global pandemic, and it’s no wonder that college students are feeling especially overwhelmed right now.

A year ago, the American Institute of Stress identified what it called an epidemic of stress among college students. But that was 2019. The newly released “Stress in America 2020” report by the American Psychological Association found that 87% of Gen Z college students (ages 18-23) feel that their education is “a significant source of stress.” Eighty-two percent added that uncertainty about what the 2020-2021 school year will be like causes them stress.

According to the APA’s report, this age group was the least likely to feel hopeful about their future and the most likely to report symptoms of depression during the previous two weeks. Three out of four said they “felt so tired that they sat around and did nothing.” Seventy-three percent “found it hard to think properly or concentrate,” or reported that they “felt lonely.” Gen Z adults had the highest percentage of respondents who reported that their mental health was worse than it was a year ago.

So, what can you do to deal with the cumulative effects of stress? Get plenty of sleep and fresh air. Give your body the balanced nutrition and regular exercise it needs to stay healthy. And don’t forget to “unplug” from time to time by taking a break from the news and social media, and practicing yoga, meditation or other forms of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Mental health professionals also emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy social support network to avoid feelings of isolation, particularly during this time of social distancing. Stay connected with friends and family via phone, text, FaceTime or Zoom. This is especially important if you are feeling increasingly anxious or depressed.

The counselors at the Santa Fe College Counseling Center are available for phone or Zoom sessions from 8:30am to 4:00pm Monday through Friday. To schedule a session, call (352) 395-5508 or e-mail counseling@sfcollege.edu.

To see if you may be experiencing the symptoms of a mental health condition, take a quick screening test at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools.