COLLEGE! It sounds like the time of your life, but it can also be nerve wrecking to do things by yourself. I remember my first week of college orientation – I was super excited to start this journey and expected it to be loads of fun. But it didn’t really hit me that I would have to do things alone and figure out friendships, relationships and life, until my parents left me at my dorm.
The transition to college can induce a lot of stress and contribute to mental health struggles in students, which can show up in different ways for different people. Recognizing what stress looks like and finding ways to minimize it, or create routines that can help you feel comfortable, can be rewarding. One of the biggest stressors all college student faces is social pressure. This may be from trying (or being forced to try) alcohol and drugs that in return cause problems achieving work-life balance, sleep, happiness, imposter syndrome and more. College students may also feel disconnected from their support system, values, friends and overall experiences. No matter what situation you’re in, remember these tips to help you prioritize yourself.
- Make time for self care
It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when juggling multiple things in college. However, no matter how busy you may be, make sure you set aside time to do things you enjoy. This can be as simple as having a bubble bath, going for walks, watching a movie or hanging out with friends. You may also want to consider using a meditation app to be present in the moment and to increase mindfulness.
- Recognize the risk of substance use
The social pressure that college students face is heightened with substance use. Recognizing that societal pressure to vape, smoke and binge drink can contribute to adverse, prolonged health effects, be mindful that choices should be made by you (free of pressure) and not society.
- If you don’t ask, then the answer is always going to be NO!
There are no stupid questions. How many times have you heard that? But it really does apply to all aspects of life, especially when exploring college all by yourself. Believe in yourself and have the courage to ask questions to learn more about situations you’re in and to weigh the costs and benefits of your decisions. Remember faculty and staff are there to help you succeed and grow, and you do not need to do things simply to please them. Resist the urge to limit your own ideas and independence.
- College is an investment of your time, energy and money
College is an expensive investment in yourself. The time, energy and money put forth now will strengthen your skills as a person and a professional. You learn best from yourself and how you handle different situations. Pay attention to Metacognition: understanding how you think. Walking into a self-advocacy situation knowing exactly how you can be best helped by your teacher, classroom, or school will make you a much more effective self-advocate.
- It’s okay to care
Sometimes emotions are a roller coaster and can lead to tears. Emotions are not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength and courage to pull yourself back on the ride. They show that you care and can help demonstrate to others how much something means to you.
- Be confident
It may feel awkward, uncomfortable or scary but know that you have the right to ask for help and seek resources. Join clubs and organizations that you are passionate about and raise your voice for things you believe in. This creates community and a support circle that you can rely on at both the individual and collective levels.
- Know that there are resources here to help if you need them!
There are resources in the community to support you along the way. You don’t have to take on challenges you face alone! If you’re in the Gallatin Valley, here are a few resources to keep in mind:
- Bridgercare (that’s us!) – Bozeman’s reproductive & sexual healthcare clinic. We serve people of all genders, and services include birth control, STI testing, annual wellness exams, LGBTQ+ and gender affirming care, and much more! A couple other things to know:
- Are you 19 or under? Every Monday from 3 – 5 PM, Bridgercare hosts a walk-in, first-come-first-serve Teen Clinic. All services at Teen Clinic are free and confidential
- Not a teen? Bridgercare offers services on a sliding fee scale, so cost is based on your income (if you choose to apply for discounts). We’re here to make sure that cost doesn’t get in the way of you getting the care you need! Schedule online here or give us a call at 406-587-0681.
- The Help Center runs a 24-Hour Crisis & Suicide Line (406-586-3333), walk-in or telehealth crisis services, a Sexual Assault Counseling Center and more.
- HRDC – services include emergency assistance, housing, emerging adult and financial security programs, resource connection.
Written by Juliana Rajamohan, amazing Summer 2021 intern! Juliana is a senior in Pre-med Human Development and Family Science at Montana State University and is very passionate about educating and providing care for patients. On the days that she is off she is busy checking off her bucket list 🙂