Managing Stress | In class earlier this week, we were asked to rate our stress levels on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most stressed, and one being the least. As I was asked this question, I felt pretty proud of myself. My number, which would have easily been a 10 during the first week of the semester, was already down to about a 4 or 5, and it felt manageable. My stress levels throughout my college experience have been more roller-coaster-like than steady. I am a chronic worrier, and I have been working so hard on this over the last several months, and I feel like I have really come a long way. And now, I’m going to talk to y’all about managing stress in college (and grad school).
Avoiding stress: Before the semester starts
(If you aren’t in school, this could be before a specific project is going to start, or before whatever task is stressing you out).
This is where you prepare yourself. Make sure you know what is going to be expected of you, when due dates are, etc. I wouldn’t advise buying your book yet because you may not need it, but as soon as a professor opens up their class online, make sure to review the syllabus.
Here are some of the tips I have for managing stress before classes start:
- Jot down due dates in your planner ahead of time
- Try to time-block your activities throughout a typical week, including all of your typical activities. (I was always working, in a club, and in classes in undergrad, now I juggle a full-time job with classes. Juggling multiple responsibilities can be daunting, but it is doable.)
- When you’re time blocking, make sure that you’re including self-care. This can include cooking yourself dinner and meal prepping, it can include going outside, taking a jog (or a nap), etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, it is just important to include something that refuels your soul (because if you don’t, I promise that you’ll burn out fast).
Managing Stress in college: During classes (and finals weeks!)
I feel like when everyone talks about managing stress in college, their first tip is always something along the lines of “don’t procrastinate!” I am not going to include this, firstly because I think it’s really hard to ask someone to “not do” something without giving them a simple plan of what to do instead, therefore my first tip is:
- chunk study. I know it’s a silly way to say it, but I can attest that by chunking my assignments and studying into smaller and more manageable tasks, I have decreased my stress so much. I do this in a kinda systematic way, but it gets the job done and keeps me on somewhat of a routine:
- First, I will create a list of all the things I need to complete in a given week.
- Then I will divide the tasks up. I try to make these tasks as small as possible (i.e. study chapter 4, study chapter 5, take a quiz covering chapters 4 and 5)
- I try to limit my tasks to 3 tasks during weekdays (when I’m working) and 5 on the weekends, but the numbers typically vary depending on how many tasks I have to do for the week. I think that planning out when I am going to do what task helps me to feel calm when I am done for the day and still have 4 other tasks looming over me for the rest of the week.
- I try to spread out similar tasks throughout the week too. I will add laundry to one day, wipe down the bathroom another day, sweeping twice a week on different days, etc. So I am not spending an entire day cleaning each week. This goes the same for studying and blogging.
- If you’re someone who read the first idea and thought, “yeah that sounds nice, but you see, I really am a procrastinator and I have a hard time motivating myself to do my work before the due date” I hear you. And this one is for both of us. Make yourself a cozy study environment. If I could go to a coffee shop and sit every time I needed to work on school stuff, I probably would procrastinate never. But, as much as I love the atmosphere of coffee shops, paying $5 a day to study can get pretty expensive, pretty fast (especially if you’re living on a college budget).
- I love sitting on my patio to study. It feels very cozy, especially at night time
- Typically I will brew myself some coffee or tea (depending on the time of day) to trick myself into thinking I am at the coffee shop.
- I play a chill playlist that also will remind me of sitting in a coffee shop. I typically play it on a pretty low volume, but I find that it makes me more productive.
I have found that when I create a calm atmosphere to study in, it manages my stress while I am working on stressful assignments, and makes me feel more calm and collected.
Managing Stress when there’s nothing you can do about your stressor
This is actually the hardest one for me. This can range from “How did I do on this assignment?” to “Did I get into grad school?”
In times when I cannot do anything at all about my stress, I have found the following tips to help me cope with my worry:
- Lean on Jesus. I pray, open my Bible, and try to trust His greater plan, even when it is difficult for me to do. I remind myself of Joshua 1:9, will write it down, and carry it around with me for reference when I begin to worry.
- Get fresh air. For me, there’s something about taking a walk down the street, through a nature trail, along the beach, etc. I feel instantly less worried and stressed when I am outside.
- Check your diet. To be clear, I am not saying to start a diet, however, I am saying that by eating “healthier” things like fruits, veggies, baked/grilled chicken, ground turkey, etc. you may feel a little better, which can lessen your stress. (And a bonus if you’re making these healthier meals at home, as they’ll lessen your financial stress too!)
I have found these simple steps have proven to be the simplest way to manage my time and effectively decrease my stress. Managing stress in college and in grad school is not always easy, with the never-ending list of tasks to complete. Keep a positive mindset, it will get easier. I always try to remind myself that this time of my life is stressful for a reason: it’s making me stronger, developing my time management skills, and growing me into the person I am meant to be. The same goes for you.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what tips you have to help manage your stress in college!
have a great week!