Students often find themselves having to take out study loans to cover tertiary fees, as well as general living expenses. Sadly, a lot of these students may get a little stressed out about having to think about debt before they’ve even started working. You’re not alone, though, and there are ways to cope with the stress of having debt as a university student.

Focus on what you can change right now

Nothing can make you feel disempowered like focusing on things you have no power over — so don’t do it! Rather focus your energy on the things that are within your control right now; like your studies, your health and gaining a bit of work experience to make it easier to get a job once you’re done with school so you can take care of that debt ASAP.

Draw up a (realistic) plan

You’re probably going to want to start saving up some money already and make sure that you don’t get into any unneeded debt while you’re studying. So you’re going to need to draw up a budget and plan for yourself. Your plan has to be realistic- otherwise, you’re going to feel discouraged if you create a budget that’s impossible to live on. Remember, the idea is to reduce stress, not cause it by setting yourself up for failure. Be honest and gentle with yourself, and then commit to your plan fully.

Talk to someone

Thank goodness for university mental health and wellness centres! Most varsity campuses have a dedicated team of counsellors to help you deal with anything that’s stressing you out, so get in touch with them. Alternatively, you could talk to a friend or family member to help relieve you of your stress. A financial advisor might also be helpful since they can provide you with practical tips to handle your financial situation. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.

Stay active

Exercise is definitely a great (and free) way to cope with stress. You could take walks, or jog on campus in the morning or evenings. You could also join a cycling club or a gym, if you’ve got one on campus. Another good idea would be to look into clubs and societies that do activities that you might be interested in like dancing, singing or acting — anything you enjoy that’ll keep your mind off your student debt.

Dealing with having debt as a student isn’t easy, but with the right support and mindset, it’s totally doable. So, keep your head focused on getting that degree, take care of your mental and physical health and you’ll be less preoccupied with your student debt.

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