It’s unfortunately the beginning of the semester for most people – except those lucky few who don’t begin classes until after Labor Day. Just know I secretly hate you for having some extra days to spend lounging in the sunshine, toes probably dipped into the shallow end of a swimming pool.
For those who aren’t so lucky and relaxed, you’re probably stressed out already (like myself), wondering how you are ever going to make it through the rest of the year when week one or two is already so bad (like myself). Just today I finished up all of last week’s homework. It’s Wednesday.
As I’m trying to avoid spiraling into a breakdown as assignments start to pile up and sleep falls by the wayside, I thought I’d come up with a few tips to help combat the stress. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but it can certainly be dealt with. Hopefully this will be helpful for some of you! And if you’ve got any tips for me, let me know. I’m always looking for new suggestions.
Take a Break // Sometimes you just need to walk away. If your calendar is packed full with homework, tests, papers, extracurricular activities, a job, etc., you’re probably wondering how you are going to eat and sleep let alone finish everything on the agenda. One of my favorite quotes from Mad Men is when Donald Draper is helping Peggy come up with an idea for an ad: “Think about it deeply and then forget it. An idea will jump up in your face.” When you’ve spent so much time on work that it’s pretty much consuming you, give this a try. Hit pause when you feel stress creeping up the back of your neck. Take five minutes and get a drink of water. Go for a walk outside. Paint your nails. Call a friend. Read a chapter of a book. Pick something enjoyable that won’t eat up a ton of time (because you do still have to turn in that paper) and let your brain rest. Your mental state will be so much better when you return.
Listen to Some Music // I am someone who can really only listen to instrumental music when I am trying to get work done, especially if it somehow involves words. There’s a part of my brain that still hasn’t learned how to focus on two separate sets of words at once. Reading, writing, talking, whatever – if there’s language involved, I break out the classical Mozart. It relaxes me and gives me something else to focus on – besides impending deadlines – while I am completing the work. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it makes everything I am trying to complete seem much less daunting. And of course once the day is over, there’s nothing quite like blasting your favorite song with the windows down while you drive on home through the city. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, trust me. Here’s a playlist that I’ve been loving recently.
Write it Down // Sometimes we get so stressed to the point where it’s difficult to explain verbally everything that’s going on. Usually, that means stress has been piling up for quite a long time, and we’re almost near breaking down. If you don’t feel like talking about it, or for whatever reason can’t, write it all down. Spend 20 minutes with a journal exploring what’s going on and how you feel about it. Putting pen to paper is such a relief sometimes because now it’s not all just tumbling around inside of your head. I’ve gotten into journaling over the past couple of years, and it’s one of my favorite ways to unwind at the end of the day. You could even try writing a letter (or two) to a friend!
One Day at a Time // This is probably the tip that helps me the most. Sometimes it’s so. hard. not to freak out over everything that’s due in a month. I write everything for school and work down in my agenda. When I take a look at that monthly calendar overview, sometimes I want to scream because it’s an impossible amount of work. To avoid feeling completely inundated, though, focus only on today. What’s due TODAY. What absolutely needs to get done TODAY. There’s no reason in worrying about what’s going to happen next week or three weeks from now, because you’re not there yet. Who knows what’s going to happen by the time you get there. Everything could be different. By focusing on today and today only, you will save yourself eons of fruitless fretfulness and probably a couple of migraines too.
Again, I hope these help a couple of you! I wish you all a happy, healthy, stress-free semester!
Thanks for reading!