Staying the Course

Ian Leonard

September is such a bittersweet time for many of us. While football, and all of the festivities it entails, has returned, most students are also facing their first tests in many of their courses. It can be a time of great stress as we begin to juggle our academic success, social lives and physical well being. Of course it’s a delicate system to maintain and no one expects to achieve the perfect balance in these aspect of their lives, but it’s important to make an effort as often as possible to combat these stressors. 

This tip is shared almost universally, no matter what the activity, but it can have some unseen benefits for your mental health and well being. Many people find keeping a list of goals to feel very rewarding. 

Personally, I like to keep a short list of small tasks that I know I can achieve that day. I’m more big picture oriented, so having a list of the small tasks that I would normally forget helps me stay focused and gives me a definite feeling of satisfaction when I see all of the things I have accomplished that day. 

Others may want to keep large, long term goals somewhere to help keep them focused on their ultimate objectives. These could be over the course of a month, semester or year; the point is you set your own pace and are in control of how you progress.

Like I mentioned before, it can be hard to juggle the different aspects that make for a successful college career. It’s easy to get bogged down by all the things you think you “have to do.” And while those things may very well be important, it’s crucial to understand that you assign these activities their worth. 

For the most part, your academics should be your number one priority, however there are times where they may take a backseat to a more pressing matter. Maintaining good grades is helpful of course, but at the end of the day our letter grades are just that. Letters. If you are in a position where your schoolwork is causing you major distress, it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate how much time you really need to dedicate to certain classes. 

This goes for friends and hobbies as well. Of course we all want to spend time with our friends. After all, they’re our friends for a reason. But you shouldn’t let that interfere with your academic goals or your mental health. Sometimes you need to just tell people no. Even if you think it may hurt their feelings or make them dislike you, if they’re really your friends they would understand that sometimes you just need to take some time for yourself.

Ultimately you know yourself best. You should take some time to figure out what stress relief techniques you respond to the best. You can always utilize the resources available at the Counseling Center, and you should never be afraid, or ashamed to seek help for any mental issues, including stress.