WEST DES MOINES — With students back at school and in the thick of their classes, stress is never in short supply.
College in the digital age may be more stressful than ever.
But, there’s a woman from West Des Moines who’s trying to change all that. That makes her an Iowan to Know.
“It’s not normal for you to look at a screen for 12 hours a day,” author Julia Dellitt said.
That may be the biggest difference between what was stressful in college years ago and what’s stressful now.
It’s so much of an issue that Dellitt wrote a new book: Self Care for College Students.
It’s only been 10 years since she was in college herself, but she recognized that social media has changed things a lot.
“I think when you’re in college, there’s a lot of pressure to document and perform. So if you’re on social media at all, you’re either watching or observing what your peers are sharing which is basically a highlight reel. And then you’re comparing it to what your real life is and those things don’t match up.”
She said it leads to unrealistic expectations and that leads to body image issues and even mental health issues. Students have so much going on, they get lost in it all.
“It seems like there’s this sense that there’s so much to do but I can’t possibly do all of it. And I feel like if I’m not able to do all of it perfectly then I’m failing.”
But she said there’s typically more help than students even know.
Most schools have on-campus counseling resources that many students never think to use.
“You hear self care nowadays and you think they’re talking about a fancy drink or a bath with bubbles or a vacation on the beach or something like that and it’s often much more practical.”
She said reaching out for those on-campus resources is a huge move.
“So you have to be the one to realize you’ve been sitting in class for four hours, I’m on a screen. I need to get a little physical movement in. Take a walk around campus. Or I’m going to shut the laptop and talk to my friend and look them in the eye.”
So what are some of those simple self-care techniques?
Here are the big three, according to Julia.
One: Slow down. Take a break, get away for a few minutes and take some deep breaths, yoga style.
Two: Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t commit to anything you already know you won’t have time for.
Three: Prioritize the number one thing you want to get done each day and just make sure that one happens.
Her book, Self Care for College Students, is on Amazon and also at Barnes and Noble stores in the metro.