If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the end of the Fall semester, you don’t have to tackle the new one alone.
Whether you haven’t done as well academically as you’d wanted or the demands of your school, work and personal life are starting to tear you at the seams emotionally, the coming of the New Year can sometimes be a source of fear rather than excitement.
The first important thing is to remember that no matter how swamped, frustrated or anxious you feel, there is always something you can do to make your situation better. The second is that you don’t have to go it alone â€” help is often just a trip to your campus counselling centre or your professor’s office away.
David Mensink is a psychologist who counsels students at Dalhousie University in Halifax and says the top three reasons students come to him for counselling are, in order, anxiety, depression and relational difficulties. Unfortunately there is no quick fix for any of those things so rather than trying to forget about your problems, Mensink says it’s crucial to confront them in a rational way.
“Learn from what’s happened previously instead of just thinking, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’ Understand what happened and let’s figure out what you can do now that’s going to be different,” Mensink said.
Most importantly, you have to commit to a plan of action that will help you move forward.
“People do not get themselves out of trouble by thinking themselves out, they have to engage in action,” Mensink said.
When it comes to stress and pressures that comes from many different sources, the key is to prioritize, then divide and conquer.
“The first thing to do is to look at all the things that are creating demand in your life and see if you can reconfigure them. Usually you can change the environment instead of changing yourself,” Mensink said.
Dropping that extra course or cutting your overzealous number of work shifts can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being, as well as your grades.
Meghan Houghton, associate vice-provost of Student Services at the University of Calgary, says she sees too many students come through her office who have stretched themselves beyond their own limits in trying to juggle too many courses and too many work shifts.
“I’m actually awestruck by how many hours students try to cram into a work-study schedule.
It’s important for students to evaluate what they want to accomplish over all â€” if you’re gunning for grad school, the likelihood you’re going to be able to maintain anything more than part-time work and keep up your grades is very low,” Houghton said.
Never lose sight of your overall goals, Houghton says, because having clear goals will make it easier pick yourself up and utilize your desire to do well as a motivating factor.
“It’s very easy to stay positive if you feel very committed to your goals. Having that panic moment isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it propels you to action,” Houghton said.