7 Ways to Manage College Stress: Part Two

We’re continuing to talk about managing college stress effectively by implementing coping skills! In the therapy room, I like to think of coping skills as management tools – things we can put in place to help with the overall picture as we focus on deeper healing work.

That said, my next recommendation is a hard-hitter that I believe can provide both momentary relief and the opporutnity for long-term healing. My favorite recommendation for us all…..

Set boundaries (and reduce SO MUCH college stress)

I cannot stress this one enough. Boundaries! Boundaries with people, with scheduling, with your energy and time… it is SO important to set boundaries to protect your mental health and reduce stress. Practice saying no whenever that check comes up in your gut that tells you something isn’t right for you, whether it’s social events, extra work assignments, or familial obligations. When you take care of yourself first by keeping your schedule reasonable (which looks different for everybody), you make room to engage in the things you do with mindful presence and enthusiasm.

This includes challenging the notion that we must be producing something valuable with all of our waking hours. Be intentional with your time, and make sure you’re taking breaks throughout the day to recharge and refocus. (Daniel Pink has really cool insights into taking Restorative Breaks – you can find his work here).
For some basics, turn off your phone or computer at night to give yourself time to relax and unwind. Rather than forcing yourself to do everything you think you “should”, unplug from anything that doesn’t fit for you (again, trust your gut instincts)!

Boundary-setting is a major theme in my work with clients in the therapy room, and in my writing. Read more here!

Joyful Movement (also known as exercise)

Exercise is a fundamental need to take care of all of us. And, it’s even more important for those of us with a history of trauma, whose brains truly need exercise to function as well as they can! Exercise is healing for the brain and great for the body, and a massive stress relief to boot.

That said, as a therapist that frequently works with clients with issues with eating and body image, exercise can become an added stressor, and sometimes even a compulsion, and that won’t help reduce the stress of college, or of anything else. I encourage clients (and myself!) to exercise in ways that resonate with them as individuals, and that they enjoy doing, so exercise doesn’t become negative. And – any exercise can be beneficial! We don’t need to work out for 90 minutes for it to “count.” Even a quick walk or a few minutes of stretching can make a big difference.

In short – find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s running, swimming, or dancing, and make it a regular part of your routine. Keep it fun.

Connection is Key

Life can be lonely and isolating, and the college years are certainly no exception, especially if you’re far from home or don’t know many people at your school. As an introvert in college, it took me a solid year before I felt really comfortable.

Find a place for yourself to belong, even if it takes time. Connecting with others can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Join a club or organization where you might find a network of people with similar interests, or volunteer in your community. Even reaching out to a friend or family member for support can make a big difference, so do it regularly.

Seek help if you need it (for college stress, and anything else)

There is no shame in seeking help. Say it eight hundred times over! Seeking help is brave, smart, and completely reasonable. Moreover, if you seek support in your younger years, you’ll setting yourself up to deal with all of life’s stressors with more insight, understanding, and self-compassion – and might save yourself years of unnecessary turmoil.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with mental health issues, seek help.  If you want to learn better coping and time management skills, seek help. If you need an objective perspective beyond the opinions of your well-meaning friends, seek help. If you feel isolated or alone, seek help. There is no better time.

Most colleges offer counseling services that can provide support and guidance. If that doesn’t cut it for you, I recommend seeking the help of a professional that specializes in working with the issues you are struggling with in particular (Like Kasey, who specializes in working with college students in New Jersey!). Therapists come in all different shapes, sizes, and specializations, and one size does not fit all. If you don’t fit with your first therapist, persevere! It takes most of us a few tries before we find the right support for us.

So – that’s what I’ve got! Some practical tips to navigate college as best you can. While college can be a stressful time, there are many things you can do to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Prioritizing self-care, practicing mindfulness, getting organized, setting boundaries, exercising regularly, connecting with others, and seeking help when you need it can all make a big difference. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to help you.

‘Til next time,


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Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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