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How to Deal With Homesickness While in College

How to Deal With Homesickness While in College

Many people describe college as the best time of their lives. However, for some people, the transition from living at home with their parents to being out on their own can be very challenging. Homesickness is very common for college students, especially when they first move out. It can take a major toll on one’s mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. In severe cases, it can even cause the student to consider dropping out of college and moving back home. While feelings of homesickness from time to time are normal, when it interferes with one’s ability to function at college it can become a major problem. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of homesickness and take the necessary steps to remedy it before it gets out of hand. 

Symptoms of Homesickness 

Homesickness can affect everyone differently, but these are some common symptoms to look out for. 

  • A feeling of not belonging 
  • Feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Anxiety that is associated with being apart from loved ones
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Nausea 
  • Feelings of low self-esteem 
  • Feeling withdrawn and disconnected
  • Trouble adapting 
  • Cultural distance 

Treating Homesickness While in College 

If you’re currently struggling with homesickness in college, the following tips may help provide some relief. 

#1.) Find Ways to Keep Busy

Staying cooped up alone in your dorm room will only make feelings of homesickness worse. Instead, make sure to get out and begin to explore the campus. The faster you get familiar with your new surroundings, the faster your new community will begin to feel like home. Typically, freshmen students arrive on campus at least a week before classes start. Don’t let this week go to waste. Spend your time exploring the campus and preparing yourself for classes. It’s important to get familiar with your class schedule so you’re not scrambling around during your first week. It can be helpful to visit each one of your classes ahead of time so you’ll have no trouble finding them on your first day. 

#2.) Get Involved With Your New Community

Making connections on campus and building new friendships can quickly help you to feel as if you are a part of your new community. Take advantage of the opportunities campus life has to offer and consider joining clubs or organizations that you’re interested in. This could mean joining a fraternity or sorority. If you’re passionate about music or art, seek out organizations focused on those activities. This will give you a better chance at connecting with people who share the same interests as you. 

#3.) Take Care of Your Health

If you’re not taking care of your physical health, your mental health will likely suffer causing feelings of homesickness to get worse. While it can be tempting to want to indulge in all the options dining halls have to offer, make sure that you’re eating well-balanced, nutritious meals. Additionally, take advantage of your campus fitness center by exercising regularly. Many schools also offer options for free fitness classes. This could be a great way to not only reduce stress levels and stay in shape but to meet new people. 

#4.) Avoid Visiting Home Too Often

While it is normal to visit home on holidays and special occasions, avoid visiting home too often. If you’re leaving campus every weekend and spending that time at home, it will make the adjustment to college life even more difficult. Instead, stay connected with family and friends in other ways such as phone calls, text messages, or regularly scheduled Zoom sessions. 

#5.) Make Time for Socialization

While it is important to stay on top of your schoolwork, spending the weekends cooped up in your dorm room studying excessively can prevent you from forming new friendships and finding your place on campus. Look into what social functions are going on around campus over the weekend ahead of time and consider asking a new friend to come with you. 

#6.) Avoid Self-Medicating With Drugs or Alcohol

When homesickness becomes especially difficult, it may be tempting to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Not only can this make your mental state even worse, but it is only temporarily masking the problem instead of getting to the root of it. 

#7.) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Many college campuses offer free mental health counseling. It can be helpful to speak with a therapist about how you’re feeling and work through the emotions you’re struggling with. They can also offer advice regarding how to deal with feelings of homesickness. 

The adjustment of going from living at home with parents to living away at college can be a very difficult transition for some people. Homesickness is very common for college students, especially during their freshmen year. Homesickness can lead to both mental and physical distress and in serious cases, it can be bad enough to cause the individual to consider dropping out and moving back home. If this is your case, there are some things that can be done to help make this transition easier. This includes getting out of your dorm room and exploring campus, making time for socialization, joining clubs and organizations that you’re interested in, and taking care of your physical health and well-being. If you’re struggling with homesickness, know that you’re not alone and that there is help available to you. At Achieve Concierge we want to make your mental health our priority. Call (858) 221-0344 today to learn more

Managing Academic Stress in College

In 2020, approximately 20 million students were projected to be enrolled in colleges across the United States. The transition from high school to college that new cohorts of students go through every year can be an overwhelming change, filled with new faces, ideas, and experiences. Although there are many great things about college, such as increasing your chances of obtaining a stable, well-paying job, considerable stress is commonplace. 

 

Finding time to adjust and enjoy this new phase of your life can feel impossible, especially if your curriculum is jam-packed with readings, assignments, and exams. Some students need to work part-time to make ends meet, while others are struggling to get by with a mental health challenge. The good news is that there are many strategies and tools at your disposal to manage stress during your academic studies.

 

Recognizing ‘Normal’ Stress & Anxiety 

 

Although most people might think that stress is a bad thing, it is completely natural. It can even help you. By forcing you to become alert and focused in the event of a threat, you will be prepared to respond readily. For example, maybe you’ve felt stress due to an upcoming exam, but it pushed you to organize your schedule and carve out ample time to study.

 

Stress tends to last for short periods, and you can normally pinpoint what’s causing it (like that upcoming exam). Anxiety results from stress and can linger for longer periods. Determining the exact cause can be tricky. Symptoms of both conditions can be similar and may include increased heart rate, perspiration, and breathing, anxious thoughts, and irritability, feeling overwhelmed, tense, and restless, and general unhappiness coupled with a sense of dread.

 

It is important to monitor your stress and anxiety levels to ensure that your mental health is not beginning to deteriorate. Anxiety and depression are common disorders in the United States and these can severely impact your academic performance. If you continue to have daily disturbances due to stress and anxiety despite your best attempts to alleviate it through coping mechanisms, it may be time to get some help. Here are some red flags to be aware of:  

 

  • Excessive anxiety that undermines the completion of daily tasks  
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope or escape 
  • Having irrational fears and intrusive thoughts
  • Significant changes in sleeping, eating, or personal hygiene habits
  • Having a prolonged low mood and feeling out of control
  • Self-harming, thinking about self-harming or suicide 

 

The Importance of Working-Memory 

 

Stress is a natural part of the college experience. However, it is a leading cause of poor performance among students. Stressful academic situations can “reduce the working memory available to attend to a task’s information processing requirements and to control its execution.” This is important because working memory allows a student to focus on the immediate task at hand, like retaining a sequence of events while trying to understand the main idea of a story.

 

Another example could be completing several steps of mental arithmetic necessary to solve the problem at large. In other words, working memory allows a person to keep a small amount of information in mind to be used at a moment’s notice. Although it might not seem that important, it is central to being able to plan, comprehend, reason, and problem-solve. Therefore, anything that disrupts this process (i.e., stress) can hinder the production of high-quality work and your ability to score high on an exam. In stress-filled environments, the brain’s working memory is in a game of tug-o-war between task execution and performance-related worries. 

 

Take Advantage of Campus Resources

 

Some stress may indeed be unavoidable, but getting a handle on it and ensuring you know how to deal with it healthily and consistently is essential to your mental health and grades. Most colleges and universities have numerous resources on-campus that are available to students free of charge. Check out your school’s mental health and psychiatric services, which may include options like prescribed medications and individual, group, art, and music therapies. You’ll have the opportunity to express your concerns, get creative, build inter-and intrapersonal skills, and develop healthy strategies for dealing with academic stress.

 

 Finding time to be active and social is also essential to your physical and mental well-being, so find out about your school’s gym, sports teams, clubs, cultural events, and volunteer opportunities. A final piece of advice is to get organized. Taking a little time to plan your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedule can make a world of difference when it comes to stress during the college experience. This will help you not only gain a sense of control over your life but also keep you on track to achieving your goals. Importantly, you’ll never miss a deadline again!

 

Millions of American students enroll in college each year.  A world of new faces, opinions, lifestyles, and ideas await them as they make their transition. The experience can be frightening, exciting, and adjusting can be downright challenging. As students embark on this new academic chapter, they will discover the great opportunities college has to offer, as well as the intense stress that comes along with it. Stress and anxiety are unavoidable aspects of the human experience. It helps us respond to threats and pushes us to get work done. Nonetheless, school can become so overwhelming that it impairs academic performance and mental health. Although there are often resources on campuses to help manage these stressors, some students need more support. If you or your child is struggling during this important time of their life, Achieve Concierge is here to help. Our flexible and same-day services are perfect for students’ hectic schedules. Schedule a consultation with us today: (858) 221-0344