First Year Away at College or University? Managing Stress and Anxiety

As teenagers transition into their first year of college or university, they face an exciting yet challenging new journey filled with new experiences, increased independence, and academic responsibilities. This phase also often brings a heavy burden of stress, anxiety, and even depression. In this blog, I discuss ways some teenagers and emerging adults (and their parents) navigate these emotional challenges.

1. Understanding the Transition: It’s important to remember that college or university life is vastly different from high school.  First years are adjusting to new surroundings, more rigorous academic demands, and the pressure to make new friends. This shift can lead to heightened stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression.

2. Coping Strategies:  When I have worked with college and university kids, I talk about different stress reduction techniques, the importance of exercise, realistic goals setting, diet, sleep, breaks, getting outdoors, play, creativity — which can all help with emotional well-being.

3. Encourage Seeking Help: Finally, while this generation tends to be more open to seeking professional help, it can still be scary to do so, especially when you are already overwhelmed.  There are usually counsellors or therapists on school campuses and many of us in private practice.  It is important to remember that psychotherapists and counsellors can provide vital support to teenagers in their first year away at college or university, helping them thrive emotionally and academically.  A little understanding, and good strategies can make a world of difference in a student’s life.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed in your first year of post-secondary school?  Please feel free to reach out therapists like me or therapists on-campus to talk.

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