Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Nicole Newcomb, MHC-P, Explore What’s Next psychotherapist.
Getting back to college after a nice long break should be easy! But the anticipation of juggling class work, exercise, family and a social life has the opposite effect and can be so overwhelming! If you are anything like me, when the start of the spring semester began approaching, I tried to prepare myself for the stress ahead. Here are a few tips and tricks to get off on the right foot for your upcoming mayhem.
1. Syllabus Buster.
When you get all of your syllabi it can be nerve-racking looking at the vast amount of work you have to get done in the next three to four months! My suggestion is taking each syllabi and writing down in a planner the dates that major assignments are due and then back tracking a week or two (however much time you feel you will need to complete the assignment) and write down “start working on ethics paper.” This will allow you to be able to look at the whole year in a less stressful mindset. You will be able to think about what you need to do without freaking out because it will be broken down into do-able bits.
2. It’s too much! I can’t do this!
Yes you can! When we feel something is too hard or seems like too much to accomplish, we tend to say “I just can’t do it.” Instead, break it down until you get to an “I can” statement: “I can start an outline for the paper today and tomorrow I can fill it in.” Using the syllabus buster tip (#1) with “I can” statements will make your workload more reasonable. You could also tell yourself, “I’ll just study for an hour,” instead of piling on the stress of thinking you have to pull an all-nighter.
3. Find a study buddy.
Just like exercise, it can be so much easier and much more fun if you have a like-minded friend who will go with you to the library, take breaks together and cheer each other on!
4. Me time.
What is the difference between breaks and being in the semester? It’s easy to find time for yourself on break. Sometimes there’s almost too much me time! But during the semester, with all that needs to be juggled, it is easy to forget about our self-care needs. Try taking five minutes every day to check in with yourself to see how you are doing. Five minutes will not break your free time budget. Set aside the work, listen to music, watch something funny on YouTube or catch up with your favorite episode of whatever on Netflix. Even closing your eyes for five minutes is better than plowing through when you’re tapped out.
5. Speaking of which… Sleep? There’s no time for that!
With the work stressors plus the immense desire (and pressure) to socialize and party, it is easy to skip out on sleep. You might be thinking “I can catch up on my sleep this weekend.” Don’t forget that a sleep routine, eating healthy and regular exercise are all stress reducers, mood lifters and concentration boosters. With this tip you might have more time for socialization if you can concentrate on your homework and not take as long doing it.
I would love to hear some feedback on our comment section on how these tips worked out for you!
Photos of courtesy stop|action|life