The skies are clear, summer's a fading fancy, and suddenly you're choosing courses and worrying about cracking the campus social code.
If you're frosh, all this is doubly nerve-racking -- new digs and roommates, lecture halls that should be outfitted with Jumbotrons and the sudden responsibility for procuring your own eats.
Unless you've got a decade or so of hardcore meditation under your belt, this all adds up to student stress syndrome. Homesickness, loneliness, fear of your peers, performance anxiety and a steady diet of coffee, beer and fast food can leave you with insomnia, spaciness, frequent colds, panic attacks and waves of sadness.
The bright side is that somewhere out of all of this will come personal revelations about how you want to live your life. To speed the process, grab a quiet hour or two in the middle of the chaos and write down some of your thoughts. Then read on for some of our experts' pointers on thriving under pressure.
what the experts say
"The trigger for stress is a fearful or anxious thought. We tend to get fairly involved with the ideas going around in our head, the what-ifs and the oh-my-goodnesses. Serious stress, panic attacks and the like are simply a matter of letting these thoughts escalate and build one on top of another. It's a good life skill to learn not to get hooked by the ideas that flash through your mind, to be able to just observe them and not get attached to them."
ROSS LAWFORD, lifestyle coach, author, The Quest For Authentic Power: Getting Past Manipulation, Control, And Self-Limiting Beliefs
"The number-one issue is procrastination. Start an assignment as early as possible; the brain works away on it subconsciously, and when you come back to it you'll make significant progress. Treat school like a job -- work 9-to-5. You've got to have a calendar -- write things down. Buddy up to study up -- when we have accountability to another person, that helps. If you need permanent retention (of material), learning needs to be reviewed at one-day, one-week and one-month intervals. To read something and not review it is to waste 90 per cent of the time spent reading it."
ANDY SHERWOOD, time management expert, president of Progressive Training
"Coffee will increase anxiety and cause blood sugar and mood fluctuations. Instead of having a burger and fries for lunch, have a veggie sandwich or falafel. For dinner, soups are easy because they take one pot. Tofu or egg drops add protein. Use almond butter instead of peanut butter, it's more nutritious. The essential oil of rosemary is very good for concentration. Smell it when you wake up in the morning or when you sit down to study. Avoid diet pop -- aspartame is a nervous system poison."
JEN GREEN, naturopath
"Homeopathy is truly financially accessible. You can pick up remedies for $6.95 each. Take kalium phosphoricum when you've exhausted your nervous system and can't sleep. Use colubrina if you've been partying too much, having too much alcohol, coffee or even sex, or you've been overworking. Anacardium orientale is good for pre-exam jitters. With any remedy, take one dose (3 pellets, 30 ch potency) per hour; stop when you feel better."
DANIELLE MOLCAR, homeopath
"A lot of depression can be related to blood sugar. Eating a lot of complex carbohydrates like whole wheat and brown rice, fruits and veggies, will keep blood sugar stable, which keeps mood stable, which makes it easier to cope. To support the brain, consume essential fatty acids. Omega-6 fats come from raw nuts and seeds, and omega-3 from cold-water fish like salmon, halibut and tuna. Flax seed oil is a good source of both."
LORENE SAURO, nutritionist
"Stress is not a sign of weakness, it's an automatic response. You can shut it off. When you breathe as if you were relaxed, you start to become relaxed. If your chest rises and falls when you breathe, that is stressful breathing. Inhale through the nose and slowly fill your lungs from the bottom to the top (your tummy should rise). Put on some quiet music, lie down and do it for half an hour if you have trouble sleeping or concentrating."
ELI BAY, president, Relaxation Response Institute
"All change incorporates loss. Try to maintain some connection (with family and old friends). Join organizations so you don't feel so isolated. Think of how you can create some kind of community for yourself. Become familiar with the resources that are available on campus. There's no shame in going and talking to somebody."
DIANE MARSHALL, clinical director, Institute of Family Living, registered marriage and family therapist (RMFT)