Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Too much to do? Tips for managing stress

It is natural for students to feel greater stress as the end of the semester approaches. In the beginning and middle of a semester, assignments tend to be smaller and evenly spread out because you are in the early stages of learning the material. As the course progresses, eventually there will be a project or paper where students need to apply what they have learned in some way. These assignments are often more challenging or complex than the early assignments. In addition to that, there are exams to prepare for, often in several classes at once.

Surprisingly, stress is actually a very healthy thing for us. Without stress, our lives would be filled with constant procrastination as very few things became important enough for us to actually do. Stress is what drives us to complete the projects and assignments and study for the tests. If too many stressors build up, however, it can sometimes make you feel sick physically. If this happens to you, there are several strategies you can use to manage it.

First, making a list of all of the things that are causing you to feel stress can be stressful in itself to draw up, but doing so will help you create a clear picture of what is weighing you down. Once you have the list, organize the list by importance, but try to weave easy-to-do tasks from the list between major tasks so you can gain a sense of quick ‘relief’ from a stressor by doing one of the easier tasks when you need a quick burst of energy or sense of accomplishment. Break the larger tasks down into smaller bites that are easier to handle. If something is causing an enormous amount of stress compared to everything else on your list, try to tackle that first—it will make doing everything else that much easier.
Make a list of soothing activities that help you relax. Do a soothing activity between each of the items on your list to give yourself recreation and mental breaks. Don’t forget to exercise, eat healthily, and get a normal amount of sleep whenever possible. Those habits will help your body be more resilient to stress whenever it occurs. Finally, remind yourself that this stressful time will not last forever. It will only be a few short weeks before you can take a nice relaxing break between semesters!

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