I love the beginning of a semester, or “syllabus week,” as it is affectionately referred to. It is a time where the workload is light, the morale is high and the stress is at an all-time low. We tend to ignore all of our responsibilities to hang out with friends, go out to parties and definitely not open our textbooks.
But as much as we want to evade every aspect of responsibility we have, it is not the best way to get rid of the stress that will inevitably pile up. Below, I give you a quick list of how to get ahead of that stress before it gets the best of you.
First, stay organized. The beginning of each semester requires purchasing a bunch of textbooks, notebooks and useless things that your professors tell you to buy that you will not end up using. Make a list and cross things off when you do them. You will get small assignments — maybe things to review, read or so on. Do those. You will most likely have the urge to blow them off because they are small and seem insignificant, but if you master the small stuff, the bigger assignments later on will be much less stressful.
Second, multitask. Email professors questions when you are sitting at lunch, and do some reading when you are doing your laundry or waiting in between classes. Utilize your time wisely to make sure you get the most out of it. Cramming everything you have to do into a short amount of time produces anxiety. While some people do work better under stress, you are better off having more time to relax and watch “The Office.”
Third, take time for yourself. The minute that you do not have any time to think about your health is the minute that you fall apart and the stress wins. Take time to go to the gym, hang out with friends and just be. It is underrated how important relaxation and “you time” is to your overall stress levels. Do things that fill you up inside and make you happy, like listening to your favorite music or going to the gym. You are the most important thing over anything else, and it is important to establish that precedent before the semester starts getting hectic.
Lastly, get sleep. I cannot stress this enough. Get some sleep. I admit I am probably the worst at following this guideline. I do not sleep as much as I should and it has definitely contributed to my overall anxiety and stress levels. Your body repairs itself at night, and lack of sleep can lead you to think and behave irrationally. Plus, lack of sleep over time has been proven to lead to attention impairment, as well as lack of alertness, concentration, learning, reasoning and problem solving — all of which leads to more stress.
Stress is deprecating to your health and personal wellbeing. Physical stress can cause headaches, chest pain and an upset stomach. Mental stress can cause high levels of anxiety, irritability and depression, leading to behavior abnormalities.
Hopefully this list will help us all get ahead of the stress that we know is coming, because we are in college, and it is just a fact of life. Stay healthy, stay relaxed and get ahead. You will be happier.