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Destler Dodge

Congratulations incoming freshmen, you have succeeded in graduating high school and have decided to continue your educational journey in college. The moment you graduate high school, you enter a world of freedom. You are free from the chains of your parents and one step closer to the real world. Don't think all chains are gone, though. The price of freedom is often overwhelming stress.

“Thirty percent of students reported that stress had negatively affected their academic performance within the past year, and over 85 percent had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year,” according to the 2015 National College Health Assessment. In short, most people in college get stressed out and sometimes grades can slip because of it, but there are many options for prevention. 

RIT actually has many different ways for you to manage your stress, ranging from counselors to fun-loving,  furry puppies.

These statistics can make college seem miserable, but fear not, because RIT actually has many different ways for you to manage your stress — ranging from counselors to fun-loving, furry pups!

Stress can come in all shapes and sizes. Being independent for the first time can bring a lot of change into your life, and that can be quite stressful. If you have never lived on your own, managed your finances, kept an eye on what assignments you have due, or dealt with roommates, it can be hard at first. To counter that stress, RIT offers a lot of ways to help, and knowing what is available to you will help manage your stress levels more than you'd think.

Cody Winston, a fourth year Multidisciplinary Studies major, is president of a club on campus called Active Minds. They focus on mental illnesses, especially stress-induced anxiety.

“Our mission on campus is to educate the general campus about these mental illnesses and change the stigma that is placed behind mental illnesses,” Cody said. He mentioned that anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses. Active Minds is a great club to join if you want to learn more about mental illnesses relating to stress or just mental illness in general.

Counseling is available at RIT for those who need someone to talk to about their stress and want confidentiality and a professional opinion. If you have problems with stress or any other mental illness, you can schedule an appointment or consultation by going to the office upstairs in the August Center. Another great person to talk to is a Resident Advisor (RA); they live on each dorm floor and are available to help you work through any problems you have. Don’t be scared to talk to a counselor or RA; they are all there to help. It is their job to be there for you.

If you don't feel like talking to someone, the Wellness Center hosts a monthly event called Bow Wow Wellness with stress management dogs in the Fireside Lounge, located in the Campus Center. Volunteers bring their certified stress-reduction dogs and have them available for students to pet and relax with.

Balancing a heavy workload, social life and sleep alone can be very difficult, so adding in time to relax sometimes seems nearly impossible. There really is no perfect formula to achieving the impossible, but by managing your time and figuring out a schedule that works for you, it can get easier.

If you think learning how to manage your time and stress might as well be a course on its own, you would be right. There is actually a stress management course at RIT through the Academic Support Center (ASC) that teaches you various ways to manage your stress; it can count as one of the two required wellness courses you must take over your time here.

If you are too stressed to spend an entire semester learning how to manage it, here are some helpful tips on how to manage stress:

Remember, the moment you feel like you are beginning to feel stressed, just relax. Take a step back and breathe. It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t finish a paper that is due the next day. Take a break from work and hang with friends, because socialization is one of the best ways to get your mind off whatever is stressing you out. If your friends are the ones making you stressed, try to talk it out with them and let them know how you feel. Communication is key in relationships, especially if you feel a strain forming. 

College is a great place for you to reinvent yourself, so go out and find clubs that suit your interest, and do things that you enjoy the most; RIT has many clubs, so they are bound to have something that is right up your alley. Working out, whether you enjoy it or not, can be a huge stress reliever. RIT has a gym that is open every day for you to exercise your stress away. 

Most importantly, don't be afraid to give yourself the "you" time that you need, whether it is reading a book, playing a video game, napping or knitting. Any quiet, relaxing activity can ease stress.

From one stressed college student to another, rock your first year and enjoy it as it comes, because it's going to be over before you know it.