Welcome (back!) to UNH!! The UNH Counseling Center (UNHCC) hopes that you had a relaxing and interesting summer. As the Fall semester begins, nature is changing. The leaves are just about to make their way to the ground, the sun is setting earlier, and baseball is making room for football season. We at UNHCC have been undergoing the transition to the academic year by welcoming new doctoral interns and postdoctoral fellows to our staff as well as implementing technological changes.
Fall is also a time of transition for many students. Whether you are returning to UNH after a summer or semester away or you are on the Durham campus for the first time as a student, you are probably experiencing some feelings associated with change: excitement, nervousness, wonder, happiness, and/or confusion. You also may be asking yourself any or all of the following questions:
“How will I adjust to everything that is new or different: courses, roommates, professors, jobs, volunteer opportunities, new student organizations, interactions with my friends?”
“How will I meet new people?”
“Will I be able to be on time for classes with my commute?”
“Will I have people to eat dinner with?“
How will I deal with missing people and pets from home?”,
“Will I get along well (or at all?) with my roommate?”
For students who are new to UNH and/or new to college, these changes can feel particularly powerful. Sometimes change can be overwhelming and lead to stress and anxiety.
Especially during these times, it is important to think of what feels familiar. For example, you have probably spent most of your life as a student and so you have already experienced taking classes and submitting assignments. You have met new people before, and so, you have familiarity with this experience as well. You have also probably already made some independent decisions, even if they have felt smaller than the choices you are making now. Most of all, you are still you. Even though your environment may have recently changed, your internal values, which kind of qualities you like in others, and your overall sense of what feels “good” or “right” probably has not changed too much. Try thinking of other aspects of your life that have not changed, or at least have not changed so much.
Especially during times of change, it is important to good care of yourself physically and emotionally. Aim to receive enough sleep (usually 7-9 hours nightly); exercise moderately, and practice healthy eating habits. If you have questions about your physical health and wellness, visit the UNH Health Services website at http://www.unh.edu/health-services for more information and to make an appointment. Generally, moderation is a healthy route!
If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, try to accept your anxiety and clear your mind by focusing on nothing but your breathing for several minutes. Then for several minutes, try silently focusing on a person, place, or object that you associate with calmness and peace. If these mindfulness exercises feel difficult, that is okay – you are not alone, they are hard for most people at first but can become easier with time. For more information on relaxation exercises, check out the Health Services website and the UNHCC website at www.unhcc.unh.edu.
If you would like to speak with a counselor about healthy ways to cope with stress and change, please contact UNHCC at 603-862-2090 or by visiting us at Smith Hall (corner of Garrison and Main Streets, Room 306) during our open hours Monday-Friday 8-5PM. We are available by phone 24/7 in the event of an emergency by calling the main number, 603-862-2090.