As exams and final papers are within sight, our backs are tenser than a room full of students writing exams. Pretty tense.
Stress is very real. We’re talking projects and papers. Exams. Part-time jobs. Money to pay for school. OSAP loans. Family life. Social life. A significant other. Extra curriculars. Volunteering. Getting a “real life” job. Our future. The list of things to stress about is staggering. Studies have shown that 90% of university students have felt overwhelmed and stressed, with 55% of these students dealing with three or more of the aforementioned stress areas all at once.
Let’s defeat the monster of stress and stay productive. Chloe Blair brought up five excellent strategies in Part 1. Here are some more pointers to keep you stress-free (well, as stress-free as possible):
Find your peak energy times
Peak energy time is defined as “a time when you are the most productive.” Simple enough. For many that can be early in the morning or late at night. You know those times where you are up at 10 o’clock at night just grinding away at a paper that you couldn’t even start at 3 in the afternoon? Some people tend to work better in the morning than others in the afternoon. For you, think of it as a journey into yourself to figure out what time you are most productive. Schedule to do the bulk of your work during your peak energy times. Once you find it, you will find that not only are you getting more done, you will get less stressed out because you are accomplishing your goals.
This may sound contradictory, but go with me on this one. Though this varies from person to person, on average, humans’ attention spans will last for about 25 minutes. A way to prevent burn out and also keep you focused is the 25-5-30 rule. Set an alarm for 25 minutes, and then another for 5 minutes after that, and then another for 30 minutes after that. (I.e. if you start at 4 p.m., you have an alarm at 4:25, 4:30, and 5:00). The five minutes in the middle is dedicated to checking every social media site under the sun that we typically “multi-task” and check while working. In one hour, you were productive for 55 minutes and used 5 to breathe and chill. Keeping the distractions at bay will keep you focused and less stressed when it comes to studying and working. You can fit in one or two cats chasing laser videos too.
Do one thing you love a day
Are you an aspiring Michael Jordan? Do you love to sing Anna’s part in “Love is an Open Door”? Or are you coming up with new exciting dishes to bring to your audition for Master Chef? Setting aside some time to do things that you enjoy (e.g. shooting hoops, singing, or cooking) can motivate you to finish the less enjoyable things (e.g. papers, lab reports, or studying). In this way, you can take time to de-stress and be productive in a different way: by the end of the night, you could finish a paper and have a pan of brownies to reward yourself! Win-win.
Know your limits and play within them
Okay, so I know I totally ripped that off of every lottery and gambling playbook, but it really does apply here. Let’s say you have a course load of five classes. That is a lot of lecture notes and assignments to keep up with, but let’s also say that you have a part-time job and volunteer at your local library. You also play league soccer, the cello and you can’t bear to miss one episode of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (I can’t blame you. Love that guy.) My point is, know what is important and prioritize. This may mean that Jimmy Fallon will have to sit on the PVR until the weekend, or that you may need to put the cello down for a bit.
Know what your limits are (time) and prioritize the things that need to get done (school work). Once you have set up your limits, you will see exactly what you can and cannot do in the span of a week. Then when new activities pop up, you know what you’ll be able to take on and what you can’t.
Avoid, alter, adapt and accept. Repeat: avoid, alter, adapt, and accept. This is a quadruple whammy, folks. First, avoid unnecessary stressors in your life. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that you can’t handle, or write down a to-do list so that you have everything that you need on paper.
Second, alter the stress situation. Talk to someone if you feel stressed out, work towards better time management, or offer a compromise to the current situation that you are in. Never feel like you have to stress alone. There are always plenty of people available to talk (or SLN articles to help you out).
Third, adapt to the stressor. You can do this by looking at the big picture (will this matter in a month?) and focussing on the positive aspects of your life. Adjust how you look at the world and how much everything means to you. If something really has no impact in the long run, then adapt and minimize the situation.
Finally, accept what you can’t change. Unfortunately there is no way for any of us to control our life paths (but if you find out how, call me!) or futures, but we can change how we approach them. Talk it out with friends and focus on the positives. Remember that you have already come this far, and that you will get through the stress once again.
ED. Note: Got your own stress tips? Add them below and we’ll use them in the third instalment.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.