Reducing School Stress

Hello beautiful, intelligent souls,

Last week we talked about how to take care of yourself in the midst of midterm craziness – but we both know that’s easier said than done. Letting go of school-related stress is extraordinarily difficult, especially at a school with such an intense culture of academic achievement. So this week we’re going to talk about how to manage school-related stress enough to even think about self care and treating yo’ self.

First, a few reminders:

-You’re mental health is more important than your grades.
-It’s ok to not be perfect – to not ace every test or nail every essay. You’re keeping your head above water, you’re trying, and that is amazing.
-Your worth is not determined by your academic achievement. Try hard, by all means, if it is important to you. But grades are not everything, and they certainly are not the most important, or most accurate, indicators of your worth. You are more than that.

Now, some tips on stress reduction….

1. Make a plan. A super in-depth, color coded version or a few lines on a piece of notebook paper, whatever works best for you. But trying to keep everything straight in your head is nearly impossible – and the act of trying to keep everything straight and remember it all is stressful in itself.

2. Break tasks into smaller chunks and make a to-do list. Creating big goals sets you up to feel stressed out if you aren’t accomplishing them. Instead of finish group project write research U.S. demographic changes over the past 50 years. These smaller chunks are easier to accomplish, and nothing helps with stress quite like crossing things off a to-do list and lightening the load.

3. Don’t get bogged down. If a certain task is taking too long and the stress is rising, switch to something else. Your brain will sort out the problem in the background, and in the meantime you can still be productive (incidentally, your brain does this in your sleep too.) Switching tasks is also an effective way to stay engaged when you start to get bored.

4. Take breaks. They can be small ones, and if absolutely necessary, they can be only for food, water, and the bathroom. But take them. And sleep – pulling an all-nighter may feel like a college rite of passage, but the next morning it will just feel yucky. Everyone needs some time to recharge. Take 5 minutes so you can come back stronger and more focused than before.

5. Make time for self care. Yes, we’ve come full circle. Hopefully you’re feeling a little less stressed, at least enough so to take a little time for self care. If not, if the stress is getting to be too much, and especially if it’s starting to drastically affect your health – both mental and physical – please reach out. You are not admitting defeat, you’re just getting a little help. Every hero needs a sidekick right? Talk to someone – a parent, a friend, or even Ears for Peers, and let them help you carry the load. You don’t have to feel sick with stress. You deserve to be happy, and success and happiness don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” — William James

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