Keep Calm and Carry On: Stressing Less This Semester
Keep your head above water this College semester with these stress tips.
by Lindsey Zimmerman, Ohio University
It’s that time of year again: all the stress of the semester is starting to take its toll on students around the world. With midterms tests and projects, part- or full-time jobs, and extracurriculars packing every waking minute of every weekday (and then some), it’s no wonder why some students can find it difficult to maintain a work-school-life balance at this point in the year.
I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never known the feeling of wanting to burst into tears just at the thought of everything I have to do, because that’s definitely how I felt at this point for the past two years of college. This year, though, I’ve noticed something different, and I think it’s because I’ve been making a solid effort to stay more organized. I don’t have any shortage of work or responsibilities, but my attitude towards it all has changed for the better.
You’d be surprised at how big of an impact a few small changes here and there can have on your mental and physical health. Try switching up your daily routine over the next few weeks and you’ll be more than ready to tackle the rest of the semester head on.
Wake up early – even when you don’t have to. This can be easier said than done for a lot of people. This year, I made a goal to be out of bed at 8 a.m. every weekday…yes, even on the days when I don’t have class until 1:30 p.m. and sleeping in seems like a beautifully inviting option. I’ve realized that I have so much more time in the day when I get up earlier – it seems obvious, but it’s amazing how much you can get done with a little extra time. Even if you’re not a morning person, try getting up even just an hour earlier than you need to. Eat a good breakfast accompanied by the caffeinated beverage of your choice, and get to work. Isn’t it nice to start getting things out of the way first thing in the day?
Write down everything. Get a good planner and actually use it. In the past, I had small planners where I would maybe write down when I had tests or projects due, but nothing really beyond that. This year, I bought a larger planner and make a point to write down everything that I have to do – from classes to meetings to schoolwork. Actually seeing your schedule in front of you can help alleviate stress, as opposed to having endless time commitments bouncing around in your head and adding to your anxiety. In addition to planners, I’m also a big fan of writing to-do lists on post it notes. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your list as you finish, and you’ll be able to see the progress you make throughout the day.
Work out: Again, finding the motivation to do this can be easier said than done, especially if you’re new to fitness. The good news is that there’s something out there for everyone when it comes to exercise. You may have to try a few different things before you find something you like, but once that happens, making regular exercise a part of your daily routine will be a great way to relieve stress. If your campus offers group fitness classes, try that – it’s a great way to expand your social circle and get a good workout at the same time. I’ve found a few classes that I really enjoy, so I write those in my planner as part of my schedule for the day so that I remember to go.
Make a budget and stick with it. I don’t think anyone ever wants to make a budget, but do it and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Try to be as realistic as possible and break it up into things that you pay for frequently. My budget is divided up into rent, electricity, car, food, gas, and school expenses, and I also make sure to factor in an extra hundred dollars or so every month for extras or emergency situations. Knowing how much you’re spending can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
Be a little selfish every day. Have a little routine every day that involves something you enjoy. Maybe you like to start your morning with a bowl of yummy oatmeal topped with fruit, or maybe you like to pause and spend some time doing a yoga sequence in the middle of your busy day. I personally like to try and spend the last 20 minutes before I go to bed reading something that is not on a screen. Find something constructive that will make you feel good, and set aside some time to treat yourself to it.
Always have something to look forward to. When you’re anticipating something good, you’re less likely to focus on the things that are weighing you down. It can be as small as getting lunch with a friend over the weekend or as big as your next travel adventure.
College is a stressful experience for everyone at some point, so it’s important to know how to handle that stress and maybe even channel it into something productive.
Good luck with the rest of your semester, and breathe easy:)