How to reduce stress and enjoy the college experience…
Time is your greatest asset in life. You get to choose how you spend it. It is a hard concept to embrace, because that means we all have to stop making excuses for college stress. Instead of saying, “I can’t exercise because I don’t have time,” we have to admit, “I choose not to exercise because I’m not prioritizing it into my schedule.” We are all personally responsible for our lives, and how we spend our time is a direct reflection of how well we embrace time management.
When I experienced college stress, I blamed others for my lack of time management. I believed that the only way I could lower my stress levels was if my professors stopped dishing out so much homework. Instead of learning better time-management strategies and easing up on my own perfectionism, I made excuses. Every semester, if you get overwhelmed and begin feeling anxious, depressed and can’t sleep, take control over your time! You will be calmer and happier for the rest of your life. You deserve it!
Time management means learning to say no. “You can determine how you use your time or by default, let others plan it for you,” says Beverly Coggins, author of Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student.
Coggins believes that in order to calm college student stress, we need to have a grasp on our own passions and priorities so that we’re in a stronger position not to be led around by the whims of others. “By determining your own passions and priorities, it gives you confidence to stay focused on where you want to go in life,” she adds. Bottom line: College students are supposed to be self-focused! You’re not a selfish person if you choose to be empowered by your own goals. Plus, when you take care of yourself first, you’ll have more energy to be there for your friends.
Skipping class = more stress. Sorry to be the downer, but skipping class really does screw with time management. It increases college student stress in the long run. Think about it: You miss class notes, class discussion, repetition of materials, and interacting with your classmates, and you’re wasting money. If you calculate how much money you’re spending per college class and then divide it by how many classes there are in a semester, you may be surprised to realize that you skipped out on a class that could very easily have exceeded one to several hundred dollars. Ugh! That’s a week’s worth of putting up with obnoxious customers at work or waiting tables at a local restaurant.
Bottom line: Unless it’s a true emergency, go to class and hit the snooze button on the weekends.
Sleep saves time. According to Coggins, sleep should be the first thing that goes on our master schedules to calm college stress. Why? “Sleep deprivation has the same effect on you as alcohol,” says Coggins. “Your reaction time is slow, you can’t think clearly, you gain weight, and you can get depressed.”
Think about how much time we waste napping during the day because we don’t sleep enough at night. C’mon, how many of us have fallen asleep when we’re sitting quietly — like in class? Coggins advises that college students figure out ways to reduce interruptions to sleep like investing in earplugs, a fan, a sleeping mask, or a note on your door. Bottom line: Don’t sacrifice sleep, because sleep deprivation is the true time-waster and definitely makes us more susceptible to college stress.
Procrastinators can master time management. Nearly two-thirds of students say they’ve procrastinated so much that it affected their performance on an exam, paper, or course grade. Coggins suggests that college students take advantage of those first few weeks of the semester, when there is little pressure, to keep up with assignments to calm college stress.
Use the following tips to escape procrastination mode and lessen college stress:
Break large tasks up into bite-sized pieces and estimate how much time each piece will take. Working backwards from your deadline, schedule in each piece of your task.
Plan in breaks. Every 45 minutes, take a 15-minute break. Do something totally different that relaxes you or invigorates you — take a walk, listen to music, whatever refreshes you and reduces your college student stress.
Know when your peak energy time is. If you are a morning person, don’t attempt overwhelming tasks at night and vice versa.
Study with a friend. Just make sure you choose friends that won’t help you procrastinate!
Bottom line: Stay away from procrastination temptations when you have a deadline looming. Phone, tablet, TV … need I say more?