– The Who, ‘Relax’
Completing group projects. Writing papers upon papers. Following through on social commitments. Working. Studying for quizzes and exams. Participating in extracurricular activities. Filling out the FAFSA, applying for loans. Registering for classes, being wait-listed, cramming GEP classes into your schedule. Figuring out housing, finding a roommate, putting a downpayment on a house.
The middle of the semester can make you feel as though you’re in the middle of a nervous breakdown.
It seems to me that the beginnings and the ends of semesters are typically smooth sailing; it’s the middle periods where the figurative waters become choppy and I begin drowning in work. Often times it can be hard to catch your breath when you feel like you’re being dragged under by the anchor of your responsibilities.
But think about it in a literal sense: how long can you stay underwater without coming up for air?
Not long. We need to take time to come to the surface and breathe every once in a while.
Here are a few ideas that might aid you in managing stress, sorting out obligations, and taking a break – before you have a breakdown.
Make a list (or five)
I’m a big fan of creating lists (as you can clearly see by the way this post is written!) I like being able to look at a collective record of my obligations and assignments, rather than having to rack my brain every time I need to recall what I need to get done – and potentially forgetting something in the process. Plus, being able to cross things off my list after completing them gives me a sense of accomplishment and motivates me to keep working. When my schedule gets really tight, I write down both my class and work schedules and then roughly allocate the rest of my free time to certain projects or extracurriculars. This way I can make the most of my time, which is a more productive alternative to constantly freaking out and wishing I had more time to complete everything. Also, be realistic when budgeting your time. Don’t plan to get everything done in one day; this will only leave you feeling disappointed when you don’t fulfill your impossible expectation. Instead, plan to finish a few things each day and finish them well.
Do a little something for yourself every day
That being said, you can’t fill up every single day with nothing but work. Sure, working is important when you feel as though you have more to get done than you can manage, but so is taking care of yourself. If you don’t pay attention to your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, everyday activities will seem even more challenging, or even impossible. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself – after all, you’re all you’ve got! If you like running, go for a run. If you like ice cream, have a scoop (or four – who’s counting?) If you like to read, paint, draw, play soccer, listen to music, talk to your parents… do that! Do something that nourishes your body, mind, and soul every day.
Take a few minutes out of your day to clear your mind
Quiet moments can be hard to come by on a college campus, but it truly is possible to find a silent spot for a few moments. Whether it’s in bed when you first wake in the morning, in an armchair in a corner of the library, or at your desk right before class begins, you can seize the brief instances of tranquility throughout the day to relax and think about… well, nothing. If a thought comes to you, acknowledge it but let it pass through; focus on nothing so your mind can rest. Problems and worries can wait. Let your mind wander without dwelling on any one subject until you are as peaceful as possible. Sometimes a little quiet time is all your mind needs to reset and restart fresh.
How do you combat mid-semester stress? Leave your thoughts in the comments!