It’s the beginning of a new semester, and you have all this energy and you set specific goals to do the best you can. Possibly one goal is to get all A’s. You are determined as ever. But like a lot of us have in common, the stress of all your classes piles on you pretty fast. You might be taking 18 credits so you can finish faster, you might have an internship, you might be working full-time or part-time along with your classes. You have papers, tests, quizzes, projects, assignments, etc. each week. All of this can be beyond overwhelming and stressful. I believe it is very important to try to manage college stress so you can continue to do well without breaking down. I want to provide some tips that I found to be really helpful and beneficial to college students to reduce stress.
#1 Don’t procrastinate, avoid distractions
This is my biggest flaw. I can be a huge procrastinator. In the beginning of a semester, I tend to get things done a few days or even weeks in advance but pretty quickly into the semester, I wait until the last possible second because I am overwhelmed with everything else I have going on. Motivation can decrease. I know I am not alone in this. One of the best ways I found to not procrastinate is go somewhere where you are not distracted. I can’t emphasize this enough! I know when it comes to myself, when I work at home, I have the television on, sometimes music, and my phone near me that I check every few minutes. This is the worst possible scenario when wanting to get things done. I would write a few sentences and take a 10-minute break, which is pretty bad. Although whenever I go to campus and sit in the library or one of the lab rooms, I finish everything pretty quickly, as I am just focused on the computer and what I am writing. Or before you even leave for the day, stay on campus until you get everything done. You just have to force yourself to stay there until you’re finished. This is better than putting it off until the night, when you might end up not doing it or making mistakes which can cause you a grade you don’t want. Remove your phone if you think you will keep checking it, as well as wherever you’re working at on an assignment.
#2 Have a good sleeping schedule
Many of us tend to go to bed late, as were finishing up assignments. But when you have a morning class, you’re going to be exhausted. Sometimes there’s not enough coffee that makes a difference in productivity. If you’re losing out on the right amount of sleep, you might put off things and again, be overwhelmed when it comes to deadlines. We always say we will do it the next morning, but that’s always the most dangerous risk. According to a Huffpost article, “The Importance of Getting Sleep In College:” “Many students attempt to get by with just six hours of sleep, thinking that they can just catch up on lost sleep over the weekend. Unfortunately, this idea of catching up does more harm than good, because it upsets the body’s biological clock and the quality of your sleep. This irregular sleeping style can even lead to other sleep problems diagnosable by medical coding such as insomnia, snoring and even narcolepsy.” Try to have the same sleep schedule each day and go to bed early! Remember when your parents used to set your bedtime? We hated it but I would kill to have that structure again.
#3 Take breaks, break down everything into small chunks
I know once we start an assignment, we just want to get everything done, but this can make us even more overwhelmed. If you break up each paper or project into small chunks, it might motivate you to continue. What I do, which may be unusual, is that I write a few sentences in each paragraph I want to discuss. I go back and write a few more sentences in each paragraph and so on. So I never start from the beginning straight to the end. I’m working on each part of an assignment at the same time. This helps me to not become overwhelmed with how much I have left to the end. You can also have a timer and set an alarm every 15 minutes, then take a break for two minutes, and so on. During the break you can scream in a pillow if you’re stressed!
#4 Be organized
Keeping track of what you have to do and being organized is one of the most helpful tips I could give! This makes life so much easier. Start each semester by putting your class syllabus on your desk or close by, and adding deadlines on your phone’s calendar. I hear color coding each class helps being organized as well. Set up automatic reminders on your phone a few days before deadlines to help you remember! When working on assignments, I go in order of each class that has assignments due first, or I’ll start with the longest/hardest assignment first. That way everything after it seems easier and takes a shorter amount of time. If you prefer writing instead if digital, write a list of everything you need to get done.
#5 Ask for an extension, it doesn’t hurt
I know it feels awkward or uncomfortable to do so, but if you are really overwhelmed or something comes up, ask your professor if you could have an extension for a day or so. Most of the professors are very understanding and realize students have a lot going on, and will grant the extension. Just don’t make a habit of it! Never hurts to ask though, and just that one day of extra time might be the stress reliever that you need!