Are you already drowning in your readings? Have you already started panicking about all the deadlines you have to meet this semester? How about wondering how you’re going to balance your job, school, and homework, with the rest of your life? Already planning on quitting because you’re overwhelmed? Are you stressed out about the stress you’re going to be stressed about?
I know we’re only into the second week of school, but it’s normal to already be feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Whether it’s your first year in university or your fifth, I’m not sure it gets any less stressful. But there can definitely be ways for you to manage your stress.
One of the most important things to do to try to keep your stress at a manageable level is to keep an agenda. This is important for a few reasons: first, it’s an easy way to keep track of all your classes, appointments, meetings, work shifts, and even to jot down when you’re going to have a night out with friends or family. By keeping an agenda — either in a planner or by using a digital option like Google Calendar — you’re able to keep track of everything you have going on in the upcoming week and for the rest of the month.
Another use for your agenda is to keep track of due dates. At the beginning of each semester, I like to comb through each class’s course outline and make a note of any deadlines for assignments, readings due, exams, papers, or presentations. I note them all down in two places: on the day each assignment is due as well as in the monthly view so I know what I need to work on throughout the month. By doing this, I can always keep track of what assignments have an approaching deadline and so you also don’t lose out on grades because you forgot about a five per cent quiz one day.
This brings me to my next point, which is to stop procrastinating. I might not be the best person to say this because the number of assignments I’ve handed in to professors that were hot off the printer is shameful. But at the same time, because I’ve done this so many times, I can definitely say it’s stressful constantly trying to beat the clock.
Always keep a lookout for approaching deadlines and try to get a head start on assignments. It seems like a simple enough thing to do but, trust me, time gets away from you quickly and soon you’re stuck writing three 12-page papers in a span of three days (true story).
Your shows are still going to be on Netflix after you’re done your assignment; there are going to be other nights out with your friends. You’ll still be able to do everything you want to do, but it’s best to get your work done first to avoid stressing out later.
Once you’ve written everything in one place and you’ve finally decided to sit down and work on your assignments, it’s likely that you’ll be sitting at your desk, or at a coffee shop and start feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do. The best thing for the next step is to write a To Do list. Simple yet effective, To Do lists allow you to prioritize the work you need to get done. Personally, nothing can beat the satisfying feeling of physically crossing something off a To Do list; it makes me feel more accomplished and in control of everything I have to complete.
Depending on what you have to get done, your To Do list can start off in one of two ways: if you don’t have any impending deadlines but a lot is due around the same time in a few weeks, start off with the one that requires the most work and go down from there. If you’re like me and you have a lot of smaller assignments more frequently throughout the semester, write them down in order of closest deadline to not miss anything.
Put your well-being first
The most important way to manage your stress is to take care of yourself, first and foremost. While, yes, school is important and so is doing well, nothing is more important than your mental health. If you still feel overwhelmed and anxious under a lot of stress after implementing the outlined steps, just take some time for yourself.
Any little thing can help in reducing your stress when it gets past the point of feeling manageable. Take a couple of hours to yourself without technology and focus on your breathing, as I did during my spa day a few weeks ago.
If you’re feeling more on the edge of mental exhaustion, binge-watch your favourite show for a night. Spend some time with your family or your friends. Treat yourself to a little at-home spa treatment before bed. Work out to flush out the toxins and boost your mood. Take a walk, play with a puppy, sleep.
Whatever you do, try to manage your stress before your stress becomes unmanageable.
Graphic by @sundaeghost