Happy New Year!
With the new school season (or new semester) upon us, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about what the year has in store for us. Without a doubt, we all have changes that we must deal with. Whether it be new classes, new people, new professors and teachers, and maybe even new jobs or new cities. With all this change coming our way, and a certain amount of uncertainty that comes with the new school year, there are some things that make us anxious but also things that excite us.
The new semester definitely makes me a little anxious, but there are also things about the new school year that excite me. I personally get excited about new classes and professors. I think the opportunity to take new classes and meet new professors is an exciting thing. It is a chance for you to start fresh. Maybe you didn’t spend a lot of time studying last semester. Well, this is your chance to take a little extra time to re-read things or make flashcards for tests. Try to enjoy your time in the classroom, because believe me time flies by and all the sudden you are out in the ‘real-world’ working full-time, and there might be a little piece of you that misses being the classroom. I also get excited about meeting new professors. I highly recommend taking the time to get to know at least one of your college professors. It’s true, yes, that they can seem intimidating, but I promise you they are not! I mean, they must like students at least a little if they decided to teach for a living, right? So I encourage you to take the time to go to there office hours, or even introduce yourself to them after class. Some of my college professors are the most interesting people I know, and it’s exciting to build a relationship with someone like that. If you feel comfortable doing this, I think you’ll be really happy you did.
Despite all the things that excite me about the school year, there are some things that make me anxious. I get the most anxious about meeting new people, whether it be in class, at work, or even meeting my neighbors. I tend to care a lot about what people think of me, that I end up staying quiet. I always feel that if I don’t say anything at all, they won’t have anything to judge me about. It has taken me quite some time to lessen my anxiety surrounding this issue, and even though I feel like I do a pretty good job of making new friends, I still feel like my anxiety creeps up at important times when I want to make a good first impression with someone. I’ve found that when meeting new people, it’s less nerve-racking to talk to them about something you have in common. If I’m meeting new people in class I like to talk to them about the class, if it’s at work I talk to them about work. This is a little technique I use to help me cope with my anxiety surrounding meeting new people. Its super simple, so if you ever feel anxious in a situation and feel like you don’t know what to say, try this! I think you’ll be pleased with how much easier conversations can be with new people.
Starting college, or high school or middle school, is filled with certain highs and certain lows, exciting times and stressful times. With that being said, taking care of your mental health is important for any back to school anxiety you may be experiencing. Preparing for mental wellness is something that everyone should do. The University of Michigan gives some tips on taking care of yourself and your mental health, some of those things include: taking time for your favorite hobbies, broadening your horizons, taking care of your bodies (exercising, eating right), surround yourself with good people, try to break up the monotony of your schedule when you can, and reach out for help when you need it. Incorporate these things into your life whenever you can, and always remember that there are people and organizations at your school or university that are there to help you.
Make sure to check out your school or universities mental health organizations. Here at my university, we have a ton of resources for students. The resources range from free one-on-one counseling services to ‘stress-busters’ designed to help students relieve stress during finals week. I personally really benefit from the ‘stress-busters’ that help, “unwind your mind and body (Student Mental Health, 2014),” during finals week. College in general can be stressful and cause anxiety, but that stress can seem to double or even triple during finals week. With that being said, taking care of your mental health throughout the entire year is important. Waiting to talk to someone about what you’re struggling can result in even more stress. It can be hard to reach out to someone for help, but sometimes taking care of your mental health can be a lot more painless if you ask for help along the way. And remember, mental wellness is something that everyone needs to take care of. Reaching out for help works for me, and it will probably work for you too. So enjoy this school year, but make sure to search out the resources available to you and use them!
By: Claire Mueller, AiT Contributor