By Sarah Wesch, Ph.D.
While you may have been eagerly awaiting the beginning of your university experience, you likely underestimated the emotions and energy involved in making such a big life transition. Whether you are an 18-year old freshman, coming straight from high school, or an older student making the transition back into school, starting college comes with certain challenges. You may have worries about whether or not you will succeed in your classes. You may feel overwhelmed by balancing work, school and home life. If you’ve moved away from home, you may miss friends, family and your familiar surroundings. What can you do to cope with this?
1) Take care of your physical health. You may feel busier than you have ever felt before. This would be an easy time to skip exercise and start eating junk food. You will feel much better, physically and mentally, if you maintain an exercise routine and eat a balanced diet. Kansas State provides free resources to students to help you meet those goals. Check out Recreational Services: http://recservices.k-state.edu. They have a great indoor workout facility as well as gear that you can rent to keep in good shape. Lafene Health Center provides health care, low-cost prescriptions and even has a dietician to help you http://www.k-state.edu/lafene.
2) Find Balance: During a transition it is tempting to retreat into your old life. You might do this by using social networking to connect with old friends. You might make many calls home to your family. These ways of coping can be very valuable to helping you through this transition. However, if you find that you are connecting with your “old life” at the expense of engaging with your new surroundings, be sure to find a balance. Schedule time to engage in new activities in the Manhattan area. In a few months, you can make many new connections.
3) Make Relaxation a Practice. When you’re scrambling to balance classes and other responsibilities, relaxation seems like a waste of time. However, daily practice of relaxation can actually make you more productive, through increasing your energy and focus during work times. Ask yourself what you’ve found relaxing in the past, and include it in each day. If you’ve never had a relaxation practice, there are many types of relaxation that you could try. Many people find swimming at the KSU Natatorium to be soothing. Also, the KSU Women’s Center sponsors free yoga classes each day: http://www.k-state.edu/nonviolence/links/yoga.htm. If you would like formal relaxation training, KSU Counseling Services has a service called biofeedback. Check it out here: http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/student/biofeedback.htm.
For some students, the transition to college can trigger more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you find that you are experiencing extreme sadness, lack of energy, trouble sleeping, negative thoughts, suicidal thinking, or any mental health symptoms that seem hard to manage, contact KSU Counseling Services for assistance (www.ksu.edu/counseling, (785)532-6927.) Our services are open to all current Kansas State University students. We’re here to help make your college experience a success.