Ah, the millennial. You are so misunderstood. No, we mean it! Unfortunately, you’re generally viewed as a gelatinous substance feeding off the resources of local wildlife, growing lazier and lazier. The Greek college student is perhaps seen as the epicenter of this laziness. Okay, let’s be real for a minute: On one level, let’s admit that you are a bit lazy. Your school work is left till the last minute, you’re sleeping until noon when you can, and you’re binge-watching old X-Files episodes on Netflix in your undergarments. Yet, we’re all a bit lazy here. We get it. We’re with you. It’s a good thing to indulge when you can. But you’re also under tremendous pressure to perform both academically and as a young adult who may have a job and other obligations. Top that off with the pressure of chronic stress or anxiety, and you’re mixing yourself a cocktail that’s a disaster in the making.
You’re pulling your hair out. You’ve got insomnia, or you’re suffering micro-sleep--when your sleepless brain shuts off for split seconds and time literally disappears. Maybe you’ve acquired an imaginary friend named Tyler, started a club…but we don’t talk about that. It’s the first rule. So, what do you do when you’re beginning to feel like an air traffic controller directing all these different obligations to their destinations in your life? Luckily, self-care isn’t something you have to go pick up in a Barnes and Noble self-help section. It’s an ongoing set of small course corrections and moments of resetting that will help you through college and beyond. That’s why OmegaFi wants you to take a breath, say, “Ommm,” and prepare your chakras to receive these Self-Care Tips for Greeks.
Actually, the First Rule Is that We Do Talk about It. With a Professional.
Seriously, we have to start here. We would never suggest that a backrub or bubble bath would fix a legitimate anxiety disorder, depression, or other mental illness exacerbated by the stress of academics and life. Here’s the thing, though. It’s clichéd to say, but clichés have a habit of sometimes being true: You are not alone. Repeat it to yourself as many times as necessary. Being a student offers you the unique opportunity to have easy access to mental health professionals. Typically, universities offer help for everything from stress over finals to serious concerns like social anxiety disorder, a death in the family, PTSD, learning disabilities (for which universities also offer special classroom accommodations), or chronic depression, to name a few. You can seek counseling usually for free as a student, at least on a short-term basis. A counselor may be able to help you figure out if medication is needed, or if there are other issues you can work out through therapy sessions. If longer-term work is needed, your university may also offer student health insurance if you aren’t already on a plan. The bottom line is that it’s important to not go it alone if you’re having legitimate mental health issues on top of everything else on your plate.
Speaking of Not Going it Alone, the Second Rule Is…
Even for just the simple everyday stresses of being a student, slinging plates of hot wings at the local sports bar for tips, trying to keep your gas tank full, pay rent, and everything else, being a part of a community is a lifesaver of epic proportions. Luckily, all you fine readers out there are likely already a member of a fraternity or sorority, so you’ve got a social safety net many other students might not have. Go you. But also, it’s your prerogative to actively seek help when it’s needed. Form mutually-beneficial study groups outside of study hours for brothers or sisters taking the same or similar classes. That way, you can help each other out as need be. Tutor one another. Ask to borrow notes from past semesters. Also, go to campus seminars about any topic you’re stressed about, from organizational skills, to time management, to passing finals and midterms, to planning your grad school options. It’s important to visit your academic advisor regularly, as well. Rule of thumb: Go often enough that they actually remember who you are the next time you stop by. Stay on top of your plan for majors and minors, and adjust course with your advisor’s help as necessary. Staying proactive and connected can go a long way to helping reduce stress. With all your essays, readings, and lab reports, you’ll go from Atlas lifting the whole world on your shoulders to part of a campus-wide team cheering you on and helping you succeed at keeping up your GPA, beginning in your own chapter house.
Rule Three: Creature Comforts Keep You from Turning into a Creature
Some of you might find it appealing to huddle grey and emaciated in the corner crooning about your “precious,” but this probably wasn’t how you pictured college would be. Plus you’ll never find the one ring. Instead, focus on whatever it is that keeps you on the level, reduces stress, etc. If you have a hobby, dedicate a set amount of hours each week, even if it’s minimal. If you can reduce work hours, even if it cuts down on your clubbing money some, do it. It’s worth it to have that extra few hours for, if nothing else, getting some sleep. Eat as healthily as you can. Take a bath, a hot shower, light candles, go to the spa, hit up the beach, kayak out to the middle of nowhere, watch your favorite television show until your eyes bleed, listen to music, go for a jog or other exercise, play some nine ball at the student center with brothers or sisters, or whatever else taps into your stress juices and drains them as much as humanly possible. Remember, these aren’t quick fixes to your actual problems, but they are a necessary accessory to de-stressing and taking care of yourself. The one thing you definitely want to avoid is using unhealthy habits and forming addictions, such as drinking alcohol, to cope with stress. You’ll find that once you find yourself in all the clutter of your hectic life, the rest is at least marginally easier to figure out.
The key to self-care, if we may give you the too-long, didn’t-read version, is twofold: One, seek help from others when you need it, and two, focus on your mental and physical wellbeing whenever possible. That can take on many different iterations depending on your personal needs, but remember, there are likely others around you going through similar if not the same dilemmas. We’re there for you. Your friends, brothers, sisters, and university are there for you. You should be there for you, too.
What self-care tips have worked for you? What challenges do you face as a student transitioning to the adult world, and how are you overcoming them? Let us know in the comments below.