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The Happy Wellness Room

It's not about stress management; it's about balance in every aspect of life.

Start where you are,
Use what you have,
Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Greetings ACHS Community!

College can be a stressful time at any age, but it doesn't have to be. Learning how to manage your life holistically is a great challenge, but it's also a fun adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life. I created this resource as my way of giving back, and paying forward. When I applied to ACHS, I was desperate for change. I got my change, and a lot more than I bargained for! I'm forever grateful.

College is arguably one of the most stressful times in life. For most, college is the first time away from home; for others, it’s the first time in a learning environment in years. When added to life’s additional stresses of social media, family, financial hardships, and others, college can become overwhelming. Those who enter higher education during the empty nest years face additional hardships, but we also offer a lifetime of experience and real-life knowledge that cannot be taught. Challenges abound for collegiates, whether online or in person, especially during the first year when key lessons must be learned in order to succeed.

Key lesson 1: Financial needs must be met. Have a plan to cover expenses so you don’t stress over it. Whether you work for someone, have a trust, crowdfund, or you’re self-employed, you have to have money. Create a budget and follow it.

Key lesson 2: Self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessary personal responsibility to take care of yourself so that you can be well and achieve your goals.

Key lesson 3: Have backup plans, and backup plans for your backup plans. Having alternate childcare, housing, or transportation plans already in place can alleviate stress when something unexpected happens. How reliable is your internet connection? Make sure you know your way to the local library, and how to use their services. Be familiar with local businesses that offer free wifi services, especially if their bandwidth allows for video streaming without lag.

Key lesson 4: Build and maintain your support system. This includes friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, student peers, student advisor, professors, and school support staff. Have a list of three people you can go to right this moment if you have an urgent need.

Key lesson 5: College is stressful and it is rigorous. It’s supposed to be. Engage in frequent relaxation techniques and learn more as you go. School doesn’t get easier, but we learn coping skills and rise to the occasion. We gain self-confidence when we use what we’ve learned and turn it into something fantastic.

Key lesson 6: Remembering everything is impossible, so don’t beat yourself up over it if you can’t recall the exact pathway of inhaled stimuli. Learn how to study because it is not something we either have or don’t have. Good study habits are developed over time. We can learn how to learn more effectively.

Key lesson 7: Ask for help. No one should expect to go through college and never need help. We don’t know everything and no one expects us to. Begin to look at your advisors, professors, and school support staff in a different light. They are there for the sole purpose of helping you get to your goals; they are your personal assistants, and they are waiting to hear from you.

Key lesson 8: Keep a knowledge base: a document similar to an annotated bibliography that holds every reference you’ve used, but also include links, quotes, snippets of information, and anything else you’d like to remember. Say you’re working on an essay about the skeletal system and found a great reference for the immune system. If you save it in your knowledge base, you can go back and search for “immune system” and find that reference easily when you’re ready for it.

Key lesson 9: Habits will form; it’s up to you to determine whether they are good habits or bad habits. Be mindful of whether new habits enhance your life or detract from it; stopping new habits is much easier than waiting until they are established. If you fail to meet a habit goal, forgive yourself. You’re human and you will make mistakes. Own them, do better tomorrow, and move on.

Key lesson 10: Keep track of and manage your resources. Time, money, and values are all you have to build into your dreams. Plan and use them wisely. Values are a resource because they help determine how we treat ourselves and each other, are consumable and replenishable, and they can be depleted, just like time and money.

Key lesson 11: Have goals, but make them realistic and attainable. If the future is too far for you, plan to get through this term, or just this module. Tracking your progress towards your short-term goals is motivating, and may build your confidence enough to set bigger or longer-term goals.

Key lesson 12: Create lists. Listing the top three or five things that actually get finished each day can be more motivating than listing ten things and finishing a third of them. If it bothers you that there’s still a dozen things not on the list, keep another list of the lower-priority things that you pull from as you have time.

Key lesson 13: Your professors know things. They know the things you want to know. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. If they lost you in the first five minutes, say so. Don't stress yourself out by waiting too long to ask for help. Stress is known to cause reduced cognitive ability, which slows the learning process, so simple stress relief is sometimes enough to allow the brain to process new information. The more stressed you become over a problem, the less capable you’ll be of coping with it.

Key lesson 14: Learn how to format the references and citations. In academia, no one knows anything until someone says it in a study or trial; even then, we have to be able to analyze the information critically. It is imperative that you’re able to relay where you learned something so your readers can research it for themselves, and so others know that we know what we’re talking about.

Key lesson 15: Black Zoom screens are a blank wall to a presenter. Part of how people communicate involves watching how our information is being received; losing that ability can cause presenters to put less effort into future presentations. Indeed, many relationships falter when we fail to put in adequate “face to face” time.

Key lesson 16: Interaction with peers is one of the most rewarding parts of college. This is the opportunity to begin building connections for the future, practice communication skills, and exercise your critical thinking skills. This is where and how we explore others’ beliefs and values without judgement because to understand “where someone is coming from” challenges us reevaluate our own belief and value systems.

Key lesson 17: Knowledge is a very powerful thing. The more of it we have, the more we can accomplish in our lifetime and the more we can pass on to those who come after us. Once we have it, it can never be taken from us.

Key lesson 18: The additional reading, additional resources, and other materials provided by the professor are for enrichment. Take advantage of it as often as possible, and save the information in your knowledge base to return to later.

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