It’s the end of September, and the amount of stress most students have on campus is pretty high. I know this because I recently found a draft from last year called “Dealing with September Stress.” Maybe it’s just me, but September seems to be that time in the semester when you have a whole lot to get done, but you still haven't grasped the fact that summer is over.
And it makes sense. The first tests of the semester all seem to be happening at the same time. The first papers are due soon. And it seems to be that time when you’ve started to procrastinate on certain work, and suddenly you’ve found yourself with a million things that you need to do in only a few days.
Of course, September is not the only time for stress, so here are a few ways to deal with the stresses of college no matter what time of year it is.
I have a weekly planner but I also have a To Do list written on my chalkboard and one on a piece of paper next to my computer. The latter is written in order of due dates. For some reason, I love writing To Do lists (almost too much, probably), but they’re incredibly helpful in planning out what needs to be done. You can order them in order of importance or due date or what you would rather do and what you would rather not do ever (like doing that reading that makes no sense and somehow magically puts you to sleep). And there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off something on the list.
Taking a break between each thing you need to get done is a great way to tell your brain to switch gears. You might have just finished that Finite homework and now need to work on that paper or lab report. Checking Facebook or Twitter, making tea, or watching an episode of whatever on Netflix is a good break, but don’t take a break that’s too long. If a break is longer than the time it took you to finish your Finite homework, you’re only procrastinating. Pick a specific amount of time (where it be 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or the length of an episode of Bones) and stick to it.
Everyone has different study habits. Some people prefer working where there are other people around. Others would rather shut themselves away in a quiet space where there is no chance for distractions. My preferred space is in my room, either at my desk or in my comfy chair, with the door shut, sometimes with music playing. If you have loud roommates, the library and the Union have great places to sit and study. The important thing is to keep that place fairly consistent. Whatever space you choose becomes that place you associate with studying and productivity, and it makes it easier to motivate yourself to get work done.
Whether you’re the type to stay up late and sleep in late or go to bed early and wake up early, getting enough sleep is important. As a college student, this is understandably difficult, and despite the advice our doctors give, we’re not about to forgo getting our work done for getting enough sleep. But by getting enough sleep, you’re letting your brain take a break, which helps you stay alert and think more clearly. And that means you’ll be able to stay focused for longer and do your homework faster and better.
At this you might be thinking “I don’t have time” and “I hate exercising” and so on, but bear with me. Whether it be going to the SRSC or running a block around your dorm/apartment complex/neighborhood or simply doing yoga stretches in your room, physical activity – whatever it may be – is a great way to deal with stress. It helps clear your mind of everything you’re thinking/worrying about, and it helps release endorphins. It gives you that extra kick of optimism when you’re thinking there’s no way you’re going to make it.
So take a deep breath, make yourself a cup of coffee, eat a cookie, and don’t worry. You’ll make it out alive.