The semester is in full swing and you are SWAMPED with assignments. Your schedule this week probably looks a little something like this: There’s a biochemistry exam on Monday, your 10-page history paper on the Colonization of Africa due Tuesday, two assignments – one for English and one for statistics – that need to be finished by Wednesday, a physical fitness test on Thursday, and a semi-break from all clutter and chaos on Friday. Whew! The weekend can’t get here fast enough.
But wait, let’s not forget about your extracurricular obligations (if you’re involved on campus) and the fact that midterms are just around the corner. Thus, the vicious cycle begins again. Anything and everything just seems to be due at the same damn time! So what do you do? How do you deal with it all?
Listed above are the ideal conditions for the monster called stress to manifest itself in more ways than one. Of course we all become stressed at some point in our lives, but how we manage it is what’s most important. Not managing your stress effectively has the potential to make matters worse. So, here are a few strategies I use to help combat stress throughout the semester.
- Complete tasks/assignments in moderation: Think of your next major assignment like a pie; devour small slices until it’s all gone. I promise you don’t have to finish it all in one sitting! Your time management skills will come into play here as well. Spend an hour working on your History paper, take a 30 minute break, then focus on another subject for the next hour. Essentially, procrastination is your enemy.
- Strive for excellence, NOT perfection: PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST. Try telling that to a perfectionist right? As students, we often feel pressure to hit the bull’s eye every single time, but in reality, that doesn’t happen. Just do your absolute best. You owe yourself that. With genuine effort, comes excellence.
- Breathe, stretch, shake, let it go: Diddy said it best. When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, just take a moment to yourself and breathe. Inhale positvity, exhale negativity. It’s as simple as that. Take the time to explore other relaxation techniques, like yoga, Pilates, or mindfulness meditation, to help clear your mind.
- Get enough sleep: This is key! I know pulling an all nighter and cramming for that exam in the morning sounds like a good idea, but it’s not. Sleep deprivation isn’t healthy. Studies show that students actually retain more information and perform better on tests after a good night’s sleep. So turn out the lights and get some shut eye…at least 5 hours of it.
- Laugh out loud: I know the phrase “laughter is the best medicine’ is a total cliche, but it’s absolutely true. It only takes one good laugh to lift my spirits. So take a break from your studying and homework and just have fun! Plan a night out with friends and make sure the laughter is on 10.
- Practice saying “No” more often”: As children, we’re taught that saying “no” is a bad thing. As an adult however, saying “no” helps you to exercise your power of choice. It’s impossible to please everybody, and there comes a time when it’s necessary to put yourself first. So to that friend who wants to drag you to a campus party (that’ll probably get shut down anyway), NO, we don’t want to go and we don’t owe you an explanation.
- Take care of YOUR needs first: This kind of piggy backs off of the last strategy, but I cannot stress the importance of self care enough. You owe it to yourself to take care of your mind, body, and soul. And don’t EVER let anyone make you feel bad about doing so. So take a walk, plan that trip you always wanted to take, sweat it out in the gym, indulge in decadent desserts on a Friday night, whatever! Just do it and do it for YOU.
So, how are you gonna de-stress this semester?