Welcome to spring semester and the new year! With that comes all the papers, reading assignments, work schedules and finding time to be with your friends. Yikes. Coming back after a month-long break is terrifying. In the first day alone, students go through “syllabus shock” when they see every single assignment, reading and papers due in the next 16 weeks.
Freshman Madi Kauffman can relate to that struggle.
“I studied so much that I didn’t have time for myself or anyone at all,” Kauffman said about last semester. “I didn’t realize that I was not doing well emotionally.”
Turns out she’s not the only one. The American Psychological Association says that anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students at 41.6 percent, followed by depression at 36.4% percent.
With the new year comes the hope of becoming a better “you,” whether that means exercising more, eating healthy, focusing on personal time or finding more of what makes you happy. Although, creating more time for yourself is a difficult task when it feels like school and other activities completely occupy your life.
But don’t fear. It’s possible to find calm and joy even when it feels like the busyness of the semester is suddenly crashing down after only a week.
Kauffman found a way to make her college experience rewarding and manageable after a difficult few months of school.
Thanks to a core team of people on campus, Kauffman realized that people here care about her and want her to succeed. That was the first step to finding time for herself and giving herself grace for her struggles.
“It’s really hard for me to accept help emotionally because I automatically think, ‘I should be able to do this on my own’,” she said.
Kauffman meets with Julie Lehman, campus counselor, regularly to ensure peace of mind and lower the overwhelming nature of a new semester. Her advice for other struggling students is simple: ask for help.
“Your feelings aren’t stupid,” Kauffman emphasized. “It’s not just something you can get over. Use the resources here because they actually do care.”
Lehman also helped her learn how to create a sense of ease while doing her homework.
“Julie gave me this idea of breathing in the word of something you want to feel, such as ease, and then breathing it out and filling the space with it,” she said.
All of these struggles and worries come back to self-care.
“Pay attention to your emotions all the time,” Kauffman said. “No feeling is too small or too big to not make a difference.”