Columnist encourages self-care

ALEX BOGER Columnist

College is commonly considered one of the most stressful undertakings a person can pursue. 

Classes are rigorous. The homework is time consuming. The exams are nerve-racking. Yet college students are expected to perform at a high level while also maintaining a social life, participating in extracurricular activities and paying for their education.

Naturally these conditions lead to high stress levels and a deep seated anxiety about grades and money. While some students make it through college just fine, some drop out because of the pressure and many more need some form of counseling during their college career. 

During my undergraduate degree, I was in the former category. I didn’t have a particularly hard time with most of my classes, and I was able to get my bachelor’s degree with only a few mentally troubling spots.

I was there for my friends — I was their rock. If they needed someone to talk to, I was there. If they needed a shoulder to cry on, I was there. I never thought I would have the same sort of trouble — I was strong.

I was also wrong. 

When I started my graduate degree, my own stress levels and anxiety went through the roof.

My new graduate major was more difficult than the work I had done at the undergraduate level. I was paying more for rent than ever before. I was taking an undergraduate-sized class load, while also conducting research and working for my adviser.

For the first time in my life, I was the one who needed the help. And I had no clue what to do.

Around this time my closest friends sat me down and told me they could tell I was under a lot of stress, and they thought I should go to counseling. I always thought I didn’t have enough problems to go to counseling, but they convinced me to go to one session and see how it went. 

My counselor helped me more than I can say. The main focus of my counseling sessions were a series of coping mechanisms designed to let me help myself when I am having a hard time —these are called self-care practices.

Self-care is an important part of mental (and physical) health. When we are stressed and anxious, our body is telling us something. Learning to listen and react to our body is a valuable skill everyone should learn. These healthy living habits can support mental health through college, as well as during your life after college.

These practices include improving time management skills, engaging in exercise, learning how to meditate and even things as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.

For more information on these self-care practices or if you need help with stress, anxiety or any other mental issue, contact South Dakota State Counseling Services. Counseling is a free service offered to students and helps many students succeed and live a less stressful life each year.

Alex Boger is an agriculture & biosystems engineering graduate student at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].