With the start of a new school year, the stress of classes, exams, syllabi, work, etc. is inevitably going to kick into high gear. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and immediately start panicking. I found myself asking, “How am I possibly going to handle all of this?” within the first few days of syllabus week. Was I overreacting? Probably a little. However, it can be a lot to handle when you receive 5 new syllabi for your classes and can see every date of an exam, paper, project, and homework. Not to mention, most students now a days, including myself, must balance a job to help pay for their education and much needed “fun money”. And who can forget, in order to stay healthy and active, fitting in an hour or two at the gym or a run might seem like the last thing on our minds. So, how do we handle it all? How do we bring ourselves back down from the stress of school? Here are 5 things I do to help manage my stress during times like these:
- Make time to exercise. It may seem like the last thing on your list, after work and studying, but setting aside just 30 minutes a day for a run or a quick at home workout can work wonders. Allowing your mind to detach from the computer or from your textbook readings will ultimately make you more productive. Sitting at a computer for too long can be detrimental to your mind and focus, so taking some time off will allow for much needed rest and reset. Not only that, but the endorphins from finishing a work out will keep your attitude up and make you more productive throughout the rest of the day.
- Take a few deep breaths. When you start to get worked up, maybe realizing that you needed to do more studying before an exam or don’t understand that nights homework, take a minute to put the pencil down and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. It may sound silly, but by reducing your heart rate and keeping yourself in check, those stress levels will reduce and you will be able to perform better with you mind at ease.
- Make a To-Do List. This is my go-to way to deal with stress. When I have a lot of work to do, and feel like I am never going to remember or complete it all, I take a sticky note and start writing everything down. By writing down what I know needs to get done, I automatically feel a sense of relief. Putting it down on paper often makes you realize that you do not have as much as you think, or at least helps you organize your jumbling thoughts a little better. What’s the best part about a To-Do list? Getting to cross things off as you get them done. Being able to scratch something off of your list is such a satisfying and rewarding feeling.
- Get some sleep! It’s typical to have a couple of late night homework and study sessions while in college so a good nights sleep is something relatively rare. However, you must make the effort to get to bed at a reasonable hour, especially if you have a busy day the next morning. It may be hard to head to bed knowing that you could use those extra few hours to get ahead on work or study for your upcoming exam, but you won’t retain as much information as you should with droopy, tired eyes and a worn out mind. Hitting the hay and hour or two earlier than you normally would will make for a more productive and efficient next day. You’ll definitely be able to tell the difference in your energy levels throughout the day and be more motivated to get that essay done.
- Practice yoga. Now I know I already mentioned exercising, but yoga is a different way to de-stress. When I run, my mind is elsewhere and I find myself singing along to my music and feeling that rush of endorphins at the finish. With yoga, however, I feel completely at ease and at peace. Taking an hour out of my day to attend a yoga class, or practice on my own brings me back down to Earth and allows me to connect my mind to my breath. It relaxes my mind and takes me away from the outside world. You can even try meditating every now and then. It can definitely be hard and you may find yourself thinking about all the work you could be doing while you attempt to silence your mind, but it can be very restorative once you get the hang of it.
Whether you implement all of these suggestions or just one into your daily routine, you will undoubtedly find yourself less stressed than before. The biggest thing to remember is this: you can only do the best you can every day. So don’t stress too much. Stressing about an exam or a paper isn’t going to do anything but harm you. So as hard as it is to not stress, try out these suggestions above to reduce your levels of stress for a more productive life and school year!