During my four years in high school, I got stressed a lot. A lot as in almost every day. Whether it was school work or prep for IB/AP tests or applying to college, I tended to get stressed very easily. It was not fun.
Because of how stressed I was in high school, I decided that one of my goals for college was to learn to be less stressed. Of course, I still get stressed sometimes, but I’ve found a lot of ways to stay stress-free, at least most of the time, even while attending a fairly rigorous school.
Swarthmore is known for having a beautiful campus (it’s also an arboretum) but it can be really easy to forget about that when you’re focused on classes and such. I’ve found that it’s very relaxing to take some time to admire campus, either in between classes or even on a weekend excursion. I live in Mary Lyons, one of the dorms off campus, so I spend a fair amount of time each day walking between the dorm and campus. I really enjoy using that walk to clear my mind a little and appreciate the view. It’s especially nice in the spring, since the cherry trees and flowers are starting to bloom, and soon the trees will start to grow their leaves. If you have some extra time, it’s also great to take a walk through the Crum Woods. I’ve done this a few times already this year, and I highly recommend it when you get the chance. There are plenty of different trails to take, birds to listen to, and rocks to rest on.
Focus on Class not Grades
One of my major sources of stress in high school was worrying about getting good grades, and so I vowed to focus less on my grades in college and more on my performance. It helps to have the first semester Pass-Fail, since you know that no one will ever look at those grades. Now that I’m in my second semester (not pass-fail), I’ve been trying to keep the same attitude. I do care about getting good grades, but instead of worrying about the grade on every single little quiz, I try to just make sure that I understand the material and am engaged in my classes. This is a much less stressful way to go through classes, and it often results in good grades at the same time.
Perhaps my most important source of de-stressing is through activities outside of class. I play the flute and piccolo in the Wind Ensemble, tutor students in Chester once a week through Dare2Soar, and am the treasurer for the club Psi Phi (Not a Frat). I would caution against getting involved in too many extracurriculars, but it can be really fun to be involved in at least one that you really enjoy. For me, going to Psi Phi meetings once a week is a great de-stresser because I get to goof around with my friends and laugh at silly jokes and forget about homework for at least an hour. Besides de-stressing, it’s also a great way to make friends; most of my friends now are either from my dorm or people I’ve met through Psi Phi.
I’ve found so far that when I’m able to lower my stress at Swarthmore, I’m able to enjoy more about it, either by myself or with friends.