By: Annalise Wintz
Being a student can be difficult and stressful in so many ways. Often times we have several other responsibilities and commitments outside of school and sometimes everything can just feel like “too much.” Simultaneously working, being a parent or caretaker, or having other obligations can make it really difficult to multitask school duties as well. There are minor lifestyle changes and tips that can really make a difference in decreasing school stress.
To start, put yourself first. You may be someone who tends to always be there for others and while that is great, it’s important to care for yourself first so that you can effectively support others as well. It is okay to say “no” to others when you feel tired or need alone time. It is okay to decline an offer to go out, no matter how bad you’d like to go. If you are debating whether to go out or work on a school assignment, ask yourself if going out will ultimately decrease or increase your stress level when it comes to finishing your school assignment. Being social can definitely boost your mood and be a positive experience, yet it may ultimately be the source of increased stress later on if you are on a time crunch to finish an assignment or study. Will the result be worth it later on?
As a current student myself, something I’ve found especially helpful in managing my time is keeping a planner to write down all of my assignments and due dates. Usually on the first day of school I look over the syllabus and highlight all of my assignment due dates and exam dates. If you think you won’t remember to look through each separate syllabus throughout the school year, semester, or quarter, write or type all the due dates on a single paper so everything is in one place and easy to reference. This can be especially helpful when you can’t remember if you have something due soon – you can simply reference your planner or due date sheet to help you remember. Additionally, making a to do list can be very helpful and create a sense of accomplishment when you are able to cross an item off! You can start with smaller tasks that will not take as much time to complete. To do lists can be helpful for both school and outside of school responsibilities. For example, maybe you need to complete an assignment, study for a test, walk your dog, do laundry, buy groceries, clean your room, or complete some other type of responsibility; you can create a to do list in high priority order. So, for example, maybe do a load of laundry and walk your dog while those clothes are in the wash. When you get back you can study or complete your assignment, and so on. Figure out what needs to be completed first and move on from there.
It’s also important to take breaks when studying or working on school assignments. Set a timer for every 30-45 minutes to at least get up and walk around or stretch. Taking short breaks gives your brain a bit of rest and actually stimulates it, thus resulting in more productivity. The result of not taking breaks is usually tired eyes, fatigue, and a lack of focus. You are actually more prone to get distracted when you do not take short breaks due to overworking and exhaustion. As humans, our minds are not used to focusing on one task for an overly long period of time; thus resulting in low concentration if short breaks are not utilized.
It’s also important to stay nourished. During a short break, you can drink water or tea (peppermint, chamomile, and lavender are good for stress) and/or have a healthy snack. Some good healthy snacks include mixed berries, avocados, whole grain chips, Greek yogurt, apples and peanut butter, rice cakes with almond butter, trail mix, almonds, dark chocolate, and air-popped popcorn.
It can often feel difficult to get a sufficient amount of rest when you have so many things to study for or complete. Set a goal for how many hours you’d like to sleep and start winding down your assignments or studying at a certain time so you can rest. Procrastination tends to be the cause of staying up late trying to cram something in. Working on something little by little, one day at a time, can truly help you get enough sleep and not feel rushed or obligated to stay up late.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. The thoughts you have about yourself can truly impact your life. Instead of thinking that you are not capable of finishing something or doing well, tell yourself you are doing enough. You are doing the best you can. You are pushing through every day and continuing to be strong and capable. Just like plants have certain requirements necessary to grow and succeed, so do we. Not all plants require the same type of care, yet they can still flourish. It’s important to nurture yourself and practice self-care so that you are able to multitask and live your highest potential.
Written By: Annalise Wintz