College Students and Graduate Students

The pressures of pursuing higher education can take a toll on your mental wellbeing.

As a college student or graduate student, it may seem to some like you are a privileged member of society because you have the opportunity to pursue higher education. They may perceive you as being free of the worries that plague those who are working full-time, but you could tell them a thing or two about that.

You worry about doing well in your classes. You worry about how you compare to your peers, who may be your job competition one day. Speaking of that, you worry about getting a good job when you graduate and, now, you worry about a job that will allow you to repay your loans, too. You feel strongly about the education you’re pursuing, but it’s not necessarily reducing your anxiety about the future.

Undergrad and graduate students often aren’t living the college life portrayed in the movies.

The high demands you experience are relentless. There is always more to know and understand about the world. Your workload is larger than any previous generation, and many students are working their way through school at the same time, so there is less space in their lives to relax and rejuvenate. The pressure can even make it can feel difficult to allow yourself to take a break, and when you do rest, you feel guilty for it because the voice in your head says you should have been spending that time working.

You have high expectations of yourself and work every day to achieve them, but your resources are often limited. Has the constant stress from trying to balance work and studies made you anxious, depressed, or feel burnt out?

If you feel that way, you aren’t alone. Research has reported depression and anxiety rates among college students and graduate students that are six times higher than the rates in the general population. Something in the culture and the higher education system is broken. These problems cause you to feel constant stress, which can even interfere with your ability to sleep.

When sleep deprivation and stress are combined, it is more difficult for you to deal with the stress, which can leave you feeling unhappy and depressed at times. This combination also makes you feel less resilient and less able to solve problems that arise. It can rob your day of enjoyment.

While we can’t fix what is broken in the culture and the higher education system for you, we can help you deal with it more effectively. Healthy coping and stress management skills are required to endure the rigors of higher education.

The skills you’ll learn at Affinity provide you with the ability to minimize the amount of stress you experience, so you can work smarter and not harder.

When stress and pressure take up less space in your life, you’ll have more space for other priorities that are important to your overall success and wellbeing. Priorities like restful sleep, meaningful relationships, pleasurable activities, and a sense of satisfaction and pride that you have rightfully earned.

We will help you focus on your strengths so you can use them to help you achieve your goals. You’ll stop borrowing trouble from the future and leave worrying about your first post-grad job until the time when you can take action. You’ll know the difference between an unsolvable problem and a problem that you can’t solve today.

There is much you can do to make college and graduate life less stressful and more enjoyable. You’re likely to think you don’t have time to address the struggles you’re having, but that’s because you’re not factoring in how much easier and faster your work will be when you’re less stressed. Use our online scheduler or contact us to set-up an appointment today.

“Type A” Personalities

You have a “Type A” personality and you accomplish a lot. But sometimes you have difficulty truly enjoying those accomplishments. As soon as you reach a goal, you’re off to conquer the next challenge because relaxing is a waste of time—doing nothing elicits feelings of guilt or waste from you. You’ve got things to do and you’re in a hurry to get them done.

Not only do you not have time to stop and smell the roses, you don’t see what doing so would accomplish. Taking a break to do something fun doesn’t help you accomplish your goals and it might give someone who doesn’t take a break an advantage over you that allows them to win.

While you’re taking care of your career, who is taking care of you?

Your sense of urgency makes you a reliable employee who is trusted to get things done, but you don’t take time to relax. You often delay personal care tasks such as haircuts, dinners with partners or friends, and annual physicals because they take time away from your work.

You may feel as if you’re the only one who can accomplish the goals that need to be met at work. When others fall short of the high bar you set, you can get frustrated quite easily, which doesn’t always win you a lot friends. This can make you seem bossy and controlling because of the increased tension you feel when things aren’t going the way you think they should.

Do you remember the last time you truly relaxed?

Where were you? What were you doing? Was someone even more demanding than you in charge of the outcome? Do you remember how your body relaxed as if a weight was lifted from your shoulders? Do you wish you could feel that way again, but can’t trust anyone else to get things done?

Do you resent not being able to trust others to do what needs to be done, which leaves the burden on your shoulders? Are you always in a hurry, whether you’re walking, eating, or in a meeting? Do you take work home with you almost every day? Do you take work on vacation with you?

What if taking a real break is the key to winning?

You accomplish a great deal because you work hard continuously. You don’t have time to absorb the lesson in the books written by great leaders who describe the moments when life-changing insights occurred when they took a moment to relax. Or, you think they would have achieved the insight sooner if they worked at it.

People who have Type “A” personality traits tend to be on the less creative side. The reason for this is because creativity requires space. When you’re constantly working, you don’t leave room for insights to come to you. Your worry about missing out may cause you to miss out.

Despite, and often because of, all your accomplishments and hard work, you are statistically more likely to have serious health problems. What if you could accomplish even more with less effort by making some changes in the way you approach your life and work?

How Therapy Can Help You Do More with Less Stress

Think back, in all the training you’ve had over the years, did anyone teach you how to use your mind to maximize both your achievements and enjoyment of life? We don’t want to dissuade you from your goals, we want to help you achieve them without giving up your joie de vivre along the way.

Making an appointment is quick and easy. You can email, text, or schedule an appointment online if you are struggling with anxiety over your work ethic. It may be one of the most productive moves you ever make.

Perfectionists

Is it possible for you to be simply “good enough?”

If your inner voice responded negatively to that provocative question, you may be a perfectionist. You set high standards and you work hard to live up to the expectations you set for yourself. Do you sometimes notice, though, that you are more focused on what you did wrong or what isn’t working instead of everything that is going well? You want things to be flawless, but are they ever truly perfect?

Sometimes you may find it difficult to take in praise from others because it doesn’t ring true for you. You know the things that weren’t perfect, so it can feel difficult to celebrate the outcomes or connect to others’ excitement about them.

You may also find that you put off doing things because you know it will be difficult to do it just right. Or, because you worry you will make a mistake, you decide it’s easiest to simply not start something in the first place.

Do you consider being a perfectionist a strength?

Doing well is important, no doubt. But as a perfectionist, the challenge is that you may never think you’ve done well enough. You find it hard to appreciate your accomplishments because you focus more on what you haven’t achieved. Or, you compare your achievements to the artificially retouched and edited versions of others’ lives on social media and decide you aren’t actually living up to high standards after all.

Sometimes it feels like your life is a never-ending treadmill that stopped being fun a long time ago. Despite the high standards you set, you never feel finished with your projects because you continually think of things you should do to improve the final result.

It is constraining to constantly be thinking about all the things you should do, or do better, or do again.

For instance, you decide you want to go on an exciting and enjoyable trip, but then your perfectionist brain goes to work and it immediately becomes a stressful prospect. You will have to find a lovely place to stay, with all the right amenities, in the most centrally-located spot, at the best price, during the time of year offering the most ideal weather, with the most convenient and affordable travel to and from the place. And all of that is just to get you there, so those stresses are only the tip of the iceberg. Once you work out all those details, you realize you need the perfect clothes to wear or the trip will be ruined. Your stress spikes again as you judge your closet, and later, as you judge yourself in the harsh florescent department store lights as you look in the dressing room mirror. And on and on it goes.

The trip is an analogy for every aspect of your life—college, a party, a date, buying a home, planning a wedding, creating an exercise routine, finding a job, and even grocery shopping. Everything you do is haunted by the idea that you will need to do it perfectly.

Setting and achieving high standards seems rational to you. After all, everyone sets standards that they live by, and yours have led to a lot of successes so far. Who dislikes a person that can make things go so well, after all?

Our standards play an important role in guiding our behavior. Sometimes, our environment or experiences taught us that making mistakes or being less than perfect isn’t acceptable. Or maybe we have difficulty coping with the distressing feelings that happen when something doesn’t work out exactly as we intended. Instead of recognizing that humans are designed to make mistakes and learn from them as they grow, we can internalize standards that require us to be flawless.

Adopting perfectionist standards may help you at times, perhaps many times, but there is a cost to that perfectionism that only you pay. The cycles created by perfectionism ultimately make your life harder. The more you show up perfectly, in your personal or professional life, the greater the expectation from yourself and others that you will continue to show up perfectly.

Conversely, when you avoid things because it will be difficult to make them perfect, those commitments build and build until the stress you feel about them becomes overwhelming. And because you’re a perfectionist, you can’t easily let yourself out of any of those obligations either.

If you are struggling with anxiety because of your perfectionism, you are not alone. Please reach out to us so we can help.