Education Trends: Anxiety, Stress & Procrastination – How to avoid these traps in college and beyond

4 min read

Edition: December 7th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Students and beginning professionals need to establish good habits to manage their time, energy and responses to situations. (Image Credit: Chloe Cushman)

Having to pursue higher studies during the pandemic has left 95% of college/university students with negative mental health symptoms, according to a survey. The study states that this adversely impacts their academic performance and early career success.

What many students don’t realise is that a lot of the pressure and stress is under their control.

This means they can manage most of it by being selective – and realistic – with regards to the activities and projects they undertake as part of their job, internship, school work or extracurricular commitments.

Much before the pandemic worsened the situation – since 2014 – anxiety and depression have been reported as college students’ leading mental health issues.

The good news is that awareness, positive thinking and healthy habits can help students manage their time, energy and responses to situations much better.

Mental health challenges – Triggers

  1. PROCRASTINATION – This is both a result and driver of anxiety. It’s a spiral, i.e., the more you procrastinate, the worse it gets.
  2. TAKING ON TOO MUCH – Members of Gen-Z, who are currently in college and entering the workforce, tend to be appreciation-driven and love opportunities to showcase their abilities in the workplace. Though taking on several opportunities may be a resume-booster, it can have poor effects on mental health. If you spread yourself too thin, nothing will get done the way you want it. Taking things slowly and in small portions can help manage feelings of anxiety.
  3. BEING A PERFECTIONIST – One thing a lot of people do is get hung up on things that didn’t go their way. They view it as if they failed somehow. If you have those perfectionist tendencies, take a second to reframe your perspective. Cognitive reframing can alter our interaction with stress and anxiety. Instead of accepting something as a failure, view it as a lesson.

It is important to address these issues early on.

Managing stress and anxiety

If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, here are a few tips to reframe your perspective:

  • Is it a life or death situation? An easy way to look at it is to do your ABCs. ASK yourself — Is it a life or death situation? BREATHE. Get CURIOUS about what you do have control on and what you can do to regain this control.
  • Have a support system. Counsellors, mentors, family and friends — recognise what makes your support system and lean on them in hours of need.
  • It’s not about you. Don’t personalise your errors.
  • Give more time to what you love doing. An easy way to do this is to make hobbies out of activities that you’re naturally inclined to pursue.
  • Manage your time with awareness. Keep a tab on your daily schedule and activities. Learn to recognise when things start getting overwhelming. Preempt in time and course-correct.
  • Take your breaks. Give yourself the breathers to relax and recharge. Slow down or ask for help. Otherwise, your stress can snowball and wreak havoc on your mental health and wellness. 

Brief exercise: Pause, close your eyes and take a few minutes to assess your stress level. See if there are any changes that you need to make to maintain or regain your balance.

If you need help or support, ask for it. Just because you are on your own in college doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.

We all experience stress. But how you react to it makes all the difference.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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