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College Freshmen: Address the stress before it impacts your health

Are you a freshman experiencing stress and anxiety about your first year in college? It is perfectly normal to experience stress or anxiety when you are making a significant change in your life. As a new college student, you are taking on so many new responsibilities and learning to manage aspects of your life that you haven’t had before. Just remember, you are not alone; 80% of college students report feeling stressed to different degrees.

Below, we go over the symptoms of stress and lay out some suggestions for how to manage it.

What is stress, and what are the symptoms?

LearnPsychology defines stress as “the body’s reaction to a challenge.” Some forms of stress are beneficial as “the right kind of stress encourages us towards change and growth.” You may experience stress when you are anticipating a fun event or when you get into a car accident. Stress happens to all of us, but if you constantly feel stressed and anxious without an end in sight, then you should seek help. Unmitigated chronic stress can cause heart problems, strokes, or even cancer.

You must get to get to know the different symptoms for stress so that you can address them as they arise. Symptoms of stress can present as cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or physical.

Physical symptoms: irregular bowel movements, involuntary twitching or shaking, irregular or missed periods, getting sick more often than normal, reduced libido, chest pain with or without tachycardia, headaches, nausea, muscle aches, trouble sleeping, heartburn or indigestion, fatigue, flushed skin, clenched teeth.

Cognitive symptoms: Impaired concentration, trouble with remembering things, chronic worrying, anxious thoughts or feelings, reduced or impaired judgment, impaired speech (mumbling or stuttering), repetitive or unwanted thoughts.

Behavioral symptoms: change in eating habits, change in sleeping habits, new or increased use of drugs and/or alcohol, nail-biting, pacing, abnormal failure or delay to complete everyday responsibilities, a significant change in school or work performance, unusual desire for social isolation, frequent lying, trouble getting along with peers.

Emotional symptoms: Less than usual patience, feelings of sadness and/or depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, restlessness, reduced or eliminated desire for activities once enjoyed or regularly done, irritability, sense of isolation, trouble coping with life’s issues, more frequent or extreme pessimistic attitude.

Why are college undergraduates so stressed?

College undergrads experience stress because they are taking on so many new challenges all at once. In order to deal with stress, it is crucial that you figure out what your stressors are.

Common stressors include:

Homesickness and isolation: Many students attend college away from friends and family they have known and depended on their entire lives. Losing this support system can trigger a lot of stress and anxiety for younger students. Talking to a counselor or participating in school events can help with feeling isolated or homesick.

Finances: As a new college student, you may be taking on a lot more financial responsibilities than you have ever had before. Additionally, students today are experiencing more stress as they face the rising cost of college tuition and student loan debt. Financial advisors can help you with budgeting and planning for future expenses.

Grades and Testing Anxiety: Almost all college students feel stressed out about their grades, especially when they are getting ready for a test. Academic and student advisors can help you with how to study and manage your time to avoid testing anxiety and stress.

There is a lot of pressure on undergraduates to “get it together” as they worry about their futures and take on new challenges. But if you are addressing the causes of your stress and seeking help, then you will be able to enjoy more of your college experience.

How to manage stress?

Because so many students struggle with stress and anxiety as a result of their new surroundings and responsibilities, college campuses have tools to help. Many college students have access to advisors, counselors, student health centers, recreation centers, and other resources to help manage the things that cause stress and anxiety.

If you are struggling with stress and/or anxiety that won’t go away, seek out help from one of the resources on campus. Some students manage stress with exercise, while others find that talking to a counselor is very helpful. Each individual will require different stress management tools or resources, and advisors and counselors can help you figure out what the best options are for your needs. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to these professionals about how you are feeling! It might be uncomfortable for you at first, but you’ll be so glad you did it.

Avoid common coping strategies that actually make things worse. A lot of college students resort to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, and this can exacerbate their problems. It is difficult to avoid encounters with these types of things on college campuses, but it is crucial to your health and your grades to address your stress and anxiety in a healthy way.


Learn about mental health services available at Crimson Care in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Dr. Ramesh Peramsetty -- along with his entire Crimson Care team -- is committed to making medical services convenient and accessible. The clinic offers three Tuscaloosa locations: Crimson Care Skyland, Veterans Memorial, and First Care on McFarland. All locations offer extended weekday hours and one-stop treatment services, including medical care, x-rays, lab work, and prescription dispensing. Crimson Care also provides digital access through its online patient portal. Request prescription refills, complete any necessary patient forms online, review your medical records at any time, and even pay your bill. Check us out today on our website, or give us a call today at Crimson Care Veterans: (205) 507-1100, Crimson Care Skyland: (205) 507-1119, or First Care: (205) 349-2323.



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