Is Returning to College Stressing You Out? – How DBT Can Help
By Jeanette Lorandini
It’s that time of year when students across the country are returning to college.
Yet for many, what should be a moment of optimism is filled with dread. Plenty of elements can cause stress for students—finalizing the class schedule, moving into housing, getting settled in with a new roommate, etc.
For some, it’s overwhelming and can create a lot of anxiety.
If you are one of these students, there is a treatment for young adults and college students available.
One way is by participating in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Here’s how DBT can help you.
Understand DBT Therapy
DBT is a therapeutic process developed in the 1980s that utilizes four key components, which include:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Developing distress tolerance capabilities
- Practicing emotional regulation
- Improving communication skills with other people
The advantage of DBT over other types of therapy is that it’s a skills-based approach. This empowers you to develop skills, habits, and traits necessary to handle stressful situations—such as returning to college.
Mindfulness When Returning to College
Mindfulness and returning to college might seem like opposite ends of the spectrum!
Often, moving back into your college room or apartment can be hectic. However, mindfulness can help ease the strain.
For example, before you even begin the trip back to campus, take some personal time in a quiet place to reflect. Visualize yourself packing your things calmly and in an organized manner. Imagine that you are traveling to your school.
What do you expect to happen when you step into your new dorm room or off-campus housing? The idea is to see yourself in that situation successfully returning to college.
Also, during the move, stay focused on the task at hand instead of fixating on your to-do list.
DBT Stress Management Strategies
DBT therapy can teach you stress management strategies useful for when you are returning to college, such as:
- Slowing down your breathing when anxious
- Keeping your heart rate below 100 beats per minute
- Staying anchored in the present moment
- Using healthy distraction techniques
- Maintaining a positive outlook
Stress management strategies help you to cope with life stress, preventing you from shutting down your emotions due to anxiety.
Returning to college can bubble up all kinds of emotions. You might feel exhilarated to see your college friends again after the summer. Or, you might sense dread because of the challenges you could face during the upcoming school year.
DBT can help you to better regulate your emotions so that they are not all over the map.
Identifying your emotions and why you’re feeling them can help keep them under control. Also, it’s beneficial to acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to feel them, too.
DBT encourages new and better ways to communicate with other people. Unsurprisingly, communication skills are helpful during times of emotional distress.
For example, imagine you are driving back to school with your parents and feeling very anxious about it. Instead of holding back those feelings, you can express them to your parents in a way that makes sense and gets to the heart of the matter. This allows you all to have an open dialogue about the issue and for them to provide support.
Oftentimes, effective communication is all about owning the emotion but also not letting that emotion get in the way of clear communication.
Returning to college is meant to be a time of excitement and anticipation. For many, though, it can also cause negative emotions, too.
DBT is an effective method of treatment for young adults and college students heading back for another year of school.
Feel free to contact me, or visit here if you’d like to learn more about how DBT can help you