College is kind of like a petri dish of your best and worst moments, all growing and fusing together in a weird sort of way. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve had my fair share of college stress. You know—the kind where somehow I’m ugly crying in the McDonald’s parking lot again at midnight because college is hard, life is crazy, and being an adult is just too much. But hang with me, because you can overcome college stress—even before you’re having yet another mental breakdown in the middle of biology class.
Whether you’re a rookie at this whole college thing—like fresh out of freshman orientation—or a seasoned finals veteran—you don’t have to spend your college career in a state of panic. So, take a deep breath, drop the homework for a second, and envision yourself with that satisfying degree. You’ve got this. But more importantly, our God has got you. Did you know you’re actually a conqueror if you follow Christ? So you can slay this college thing!
Still not convinced? Understandable. But here are a few quick tips about how to overcome that looming college stress.
5 Ways to Beat College Stress Before Your Next Breakdown
- Your stress is real, but peace is closer than you think. You know those times when you start getting stressed about your stress? It’s okay. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your stress doesn’t matter or that your stress isn’t real. It is. But peace is also closer than you think. First of all, God cares about your stress. And even better? He promises to carry it for you (1 Peter 5:7). Just cast your worries, cares, and anxieties onto Him. What’s even crazier is that God promises us His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Can you even imagine? But here’s the kicker—we’ve got to keep our minds focused on Him. So, focus on the God who’s with you, not on the problems around you.
- Don’t deal with your stress alone. What’s worse than being stressed? Being stressed and lonely. You need the right people around you to speak encouragement and truth over you. Two people are always better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9). When you’re stressed out, you’re not thinking clearly, and you need the right people to give you a better, clearer perspective. And it’s easier to find these people than you think. Joining or starting a LifeGroup is a great way to start. There are also great people in your dorm, classes, or extracurriculars. Pray for God to reveal the right relationships to you, and He will (1 John 5:14). Sometimes that means having to initiate it yourself. But it’s always worth the momentary discomfort for a lasting friendship.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. College is exhilarating because you finally get to experience all the freedom that comes with being an adult. There’s no one there to make sure you go to class on time, go to bed at a reasonable hour, or monitor what you do, when you do it, and who you do it with. But, all that freedom comes with a huge responsibility. This is the start of your adult life. Don’t let it overwhelm you, but consider the lifelong impact of your choices (Philippians 1:27). Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a party or already at that cute guy/girl’s dorm to decide how you’re going to respond. Set your boundaries far before you need them. And stick to them. Avoid temptations tomorrow by deciding how you’ll react today.
- Embrace your freedom. Being an adult and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Although you do have a lot more responsibility, you also have a lot more freedom. Embrace it! College can be one of the most exciting times of life because you’re learning who you are, what your boundaries are, and how to live inside of them. But the best part? You’re deciding! When you decide, though, consider what you want your future to look like. When you know who you want to be, you’ll make better choices about what you do. If you want to have a close relationship with God, then you’ll prioritize time with Him through reading His Word, being involved in a local church, and spending time praying and listening to Him. If you have a lot of professional goals, you’ll also make time to study hard. Choose what you want to be known for later, and do more of that now! You own your own life, and that’s a beautiful thing. Enjoy it!
- Get help when you need it. If your stress has progressed to an all-consuming level, it may be time to seek out some help. Colleges have great resources available to you, like tutoring centers, financial counselors, career counselors, and licensed professional counselors. It doesn’t make you weak to seek help; it makes you wise. Take advantage of these resources. And if you’re especially struggling with stress to the point where you think it’s anxiety, visit a counselor and make an appointment with your doctor. There’s nothing wrong with you—just like your body needs a check-up, your mind does too.
There’s no magic formula for destroying stress or making it through college. Instead, choose to embrace the process and trust that God is at work in you and through you. You’re never going to have all the answers. But, you have access to the one who does. God is with you, He will never leave you, and He offers His peace to you. Ask Him for it. Seek Him first. And know that even when life is uncertain, our God remains the same.