Stress always seems to catch me off guard.
Stress is like that annoying friend who sneaks up behind you, taps you on the left shoulder, then, as you turn to look, smacks you in upside of the head from the right. It catches you unawares, even if you think you are looking in the right direction. . . er, or should I say, left direction.
I usually start out the semester fine. I develop a rhythm, my eyes are fixed to the left, where I’ve set my goal and then, suddenly, from my right—
Oops, looks like you forgot this deadline!
Impossible group project time!
Ahh, girl/boy/friend issues, eh? Better find a bench. Time for a DTR!
Hmmm strange. My wallet must have swallowed my money again. I guess groceries will have to wait ‘til next paycheck. . . when is that again?
Guess I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that last project. Let’s lift up our coffee mugs and toast to another late night and a week’s worth of sleep deprivation!
Note to self: invest in time machine so I can make it to that group/club meeting/job/class/workshop/sports game/friend’s recital . . . all at the same time . . .
Smack. Smack! SMACK!
Stress can get the best of us. What to keep in mind, however, is that this “friend” uses the same tricks each time. Once we understand this clever ruse, the next time it surreptitiously taps, we can train ourselves to look confidently over the right shoulder and stare it straight in the face.
Here are some ways you can prepare yourself next time stress comes a-tappin’.
As much as you try, you cannot do everything—nor should you try. Simply prioritizing the more important and pressing issues on your ever-growing “to-do” list can alleviate much pressure. What should get done first? What can be saved for next week?
2. Manage your time by keeping an organized schedule
Develop a schedule that will keep you on task. It can be an online calendar, a planner, an audio recording of your to-do list set to the Mission Impossible theme song—whatever your style will help you to remember what should be done in a given day/week/month. It is important to find a system that works for you and keep to it.
3.Try not to procrastinate
We all do it. In fact, you might be procrastinating right now by taking time to read this lovely article. That’s okay. Just take note that even by getting a small jumpstart on that future project you could be saving yourself unnecessary misery when assignments start piling up.
4. Know your limits
As students, we have become multi-tasking masters, but everyone has a breaking point. Recognize this point; if you are becoming overwhelmed with the amount heaped on your plate—between jobs and school and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life—be willing to let go of cumbersome responsibilities. It’s really okay to just say “no” to commitments that are becoming too much. Really!
5. Seek out social support
Much as we try, we can’t solve everything by ourselves, and we all need an outlet to plug into. If you are having a rough day, seek advice or a listening ear from friends, family, and/or mentors. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up—just by verbalizing anxieties, you can relieve stress tenfold.
6. Make time for fun and relaxation.
Seriously. As students, we are constantly on the go. While we want to get a good education, too much studying will make you go bonkers. I’m pretty sure that’s scientific fact. You can quote me on that.
We all need time to wind down. So watch a movie with friends. Go to a local festival. Have a game night. Life is supposed to be lived! Not just studied!
7. Keep a healthy diet and exercise
I know it’s hard.
It’s so much easier to go for the quick fix of “cheap ‘n’ easy mac’n’cheesy” than bothering with the cost and effort of fruits and veggies.
And, I know, the gym is sooo far away…and your bed and Netflix call to you with their sweet, tender siren songs.
But a good diet and regular exercise of even just 2 days a week will boost your mental and physical health, giving your body the much needed energy for those long school days.
8. Random Acts of Kindness
This one might catch you off guard, but did you know simply having an attitude of gratitude and performing acts of kindness can relieve stress and make for a happier you? No joke.Whole studies have been made of it.This guy even made a video about it.
Simply changing your outlook and showing appreciation for the small blessings in life can switch your mindset, causing the weightiness of daily problems to pale in comparison.
In the same grain, kindness is gratitude put into action.
So, volunteer at a soup kitchen. Mentor a student. “Adopt” a grandparent. Buy a friend coffee. Thank someone you love or appreciate having in your life. Give a generous tip. Surprise a random stranger in the checkout line by paying for their groceries.
It may seem like such a simple thing to do. Yet, feel the tension melt away.
So, sally forth, brave collegiate! Don’t let stress get the best of you. And remember, the ARC is not just here for your essay needs, but if you need any help managing your time, battling the lures of procrastination, or you want some free tea and M&Ms, the ARC has tons of helpful materials, as well a team of friendly consultants who would be glad to work with you.
So, next time that “annoying friend” tries to get in one of those dreaded smacks to the head, turn for it head-on, duck, and poke it in the stomach.
. . .Okay, maybe a bad analogy. But you get my point.
*Additional ideas to relieve stress:
- Go for a walk or spend time in nature
- Buy a piñata. Fill it with candy. Whack it down and share the goods with friends.
- Keep a journal
- Do your best Gollum impression
- Call a good friend
- Direct a self-play using shadow puppets
- Sip your favorite coffee or tea
- Find a puppy—play with it.
- Curl up with a good book.
- Listen to music.
- Have a dance party.