As freshmen settle into their new homes at Illinois State University, they must also face a major side effect of living at college: stress.
Though the first few weeks can be daunting, ISU’s department of Health Promotion and Wellness provides a variety of services intended to combat student stress, anxiety and unrest.
Coordinator of Health Promotion and Wellness Kerri Calvert encourages students to take advantage of the department’s activities which focus on eight dimensions of wellness: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, vocational and environmental.
“We put out messages and programming across all of those different categories, and then, in late September, there’s going to be a Healthy Campus Week and you’ll be able to come out and see some of the offices that address the various factors besides us,” Calvert said.
In order to thrive at ISU, Calvert recommends that students learn to self-assess their abilities and reach out for guidance.
“I always tell our students that successful students ask for help. They recognize when they need it, and they ask for it,” Calvert said.
“Your parents aren’t here. Your professors aren’t going to notice, especially in a really large class, so it’s really important for a new student to be able to go to somebody and say, ‘I’m struggling in your class’ or ‘I don’t know how to take notes,’” Calvert continued.
According to Calvert, a major aspect of adjusting to college life is learning to time manage.
“Learning how to manage their time sounds so silly, but it’s huge. If a student isn’t able to conquer time management and procrastination, it’s really hard to not be stressed here because you have to keep track of multiple projects and tests,” Calvert said. “You can’t just hold that all in your head anymore. It’s not like high school.”
Health Promotion and Wellness encourages students to make sure they are fulfilling all parts of themselves.
“It’s not all about books, but it’s also not all about having fun. You need to find your balance, and that’s going to look a little different for everybody, but you need to make sure you have some social time. You need to make sure you’re making friends, getting out of your room and all of those things,” Calvert said.
Freshman communication studies major Anna Heiar moved in a week earlier than most of her peers, but that didn’t keep her from feeling slightly overwhelmed during typical move-in week.
“When people actually started moving in, that’s when it got pretty chaotic. I just wasn’t used to having so many people around me,” Heiar said.
After she got used to the size of ISU’s student population, Heiar had to learn to manage her free time in order to keep on top of her schoolwork.
“Because I do a lot of different activities, it makes doing schoolwork a lot more difficult. I’ve had to force myself to stay in and actually do the work, but when I actually get ahead of it, it feels so much better and less stressful,” Heiar said.
Calvert and the staff at Health Promotion and Wellness know that freshmen will adjust to college life at their own pace, but the department encourages all students to attend its recurring stress-relief events, including a weekly visit from a licensed massage therapist.
“This semester is probably trial and error as you’re working your way through it, but hopefully by the end of the semester, you’ve got really good skills in place to help you be successful the rest of your time here,” Calvert said.