No matter what major you’re in, stress is going to find its way into your life during college. Right now, I’m stressing about a project I put off for a bit too long that is sort of due tomorrow, and as soon as I finish that, I’ll be stressing about the quiz I have in two days. College is a never-ending cycle of due dates and exams and stuffing a ton of information into your head everyday, so it’s completely okay to get stressed about that! Instead of trying to eliminate stress completely, you should find ways to manage your stress on a daily basis.
A little bit of stress is a good thing, because it helps you stay on top of your game, but learning how to balance it will make your college years much less overwhelming. Today I want to share some of the ways I personally deal with stress throughout the day, with the hope that these ideas will help you come up with strategies that work for your life!
Write Everything You Need To Do On Paper
Usually the things that stress me out are related to due dates or feeling like I’m overwhelmed with too much stuff. This can happen within a single class day in college if all of your professors decide to throw a project at you on the same day, or schedule tests the same week! I find that making a huge to-do list gives me a better perspective on what I need to get done, so I’m not worried about forgetting something and I can visualize how many tasks I have left. You can do this on a whiteboard, in a notebook, on an app, or anywhere that you have access to throughout the day!
I like to keep a daily to-do list and an endless one. When I get ready for bed, I transfer over anything I didn’t finish onto my to-do list for the next day, and look through my endless list to see what I want to accomplish tomorrow. The endless one gives me a place to jot basically any task down, whether it’s due tomorrow or in a month, so I can constantly look back on it and transfer those to my daily list as their due dates get closer.
Once you’ve finished a task, cross it out. Obviously, duh, that’s how lists work, but the feeling of crossing a task off your to-do list is so relieving! Maybe I’m just a really visual person, but seeing that I finished something takes a load of stress off of me, and having everything crossed off by the end of the day will give you a huge sense of success.
Take A Deep Breath When You Feel Stress Coming On
If you’re ever feeling extremely overwhelmed, like during a late-night study session or even during a test, taking a deep breath and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes can completely change your mindset. You want to make your lungs feel full breathing in, and let everything out slowly, taking long breaks between each breath. Closing your eyes will help too, especially if you’re somewhere with harsh lighting.
I’ve been using the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker for the last month, and it’s really opened my eyes to how much my breathing affects my mindset and stress levels! It just clips onto your bra or belt loop and tracks your breathing throughout the day to see whether you’re calm, focused, or tense. You can see all of the data it collects in its companion app on your phone, so you can easily track how your breathing changes during stressful times of the day and work on incorporating those deep breaths. The Spire will actually vibrate if you haven’t taken a deep breath in a while, which is probably my favorite feature, because I usually don’t think to take one when I actually need it!
If you’re not used to taking deep breaths or need a little guidance on what a good deep breath even is, Spire provides a series of boosts in the app that can help you feel calm and reduce stress. It also suggests breathing exercises and meditations based on how you’ve been feeling, which I’ve found super helpful and am slowly incorporating into my day!
Keep A Detailed Calendar
Similar to the to-do list, but on a much more detailed level, a calendar helps me visualize exactly what I need to get done and when it needs to be done by. I actually have two calendars going, because I haven’t been able to settle on using a journal or an app! In my journal, I write out weekly calendars in a to-do list style, so each day has a few lines where I list what I want to get done that day. This helps me spread out my work evenly, and ensure that I have time to get it all done. I also write in any homework due dates and quiz/exam days so I know what nights I need to study!
In my iCloud Calendar, I include all of my classes, events, major due dates, and quiz/exam days. I color code all of this, with due dates in red so I don’t miss them! Having this separate calendar helps me plan out my journal calendar, because I know which days I’ll be busier than others and therefore shouldn’t schedule a ton of tasks on. It also keeps either calendar from getting too cluttered, which stresses me out in itself!
Go On A Walk
I always thought this advice was pointless, but I’ve been trying it out this semester and it actually works! If you tend to sit at your desk for hours without taking any breaks, taking walks could really help improve your work quality and make you feel better overall. I usually go out with a destination in mind, and recently that’s been the Jamba Juice about half a mile from my apartment. That way my walk doubles as a stress reliever and a reward for being productive! The Spire wearable tracker actually doubles as an activity tracker too, meaning that walk will be logged into the app along with your breathing!
Keep Snacks And A Water Bottle With You Throughout The Day
Being hungry or thirsty can ruin my mood, which easily translates to being stressed if I’m doing school work. I always have a water bottle with me, partly because it’s hot in Texas and I’m dying by the time I get to class, but also because staying hydrated makes me feel great! Having snacks in my bag keeps me from getting into that cranky, I-haven’t-had-lunch-yet mood, which in turn keeps me from stressing out during class about going to get that lunch.
Keeping your body happy is a really simple way to lower your daily stress levels, even if that just means drinking more water and eating balanced meals often. Aside from taking care of your stomach, this can also include exercising, watching your breathing, getting outside, and resting when your body really needs it. Overall, managing stress in college is about making minor changes to your daily habits and finding things that help calm you down when things get overwhelming. Once you figure out some strategies that work for you, implementing them and sticking to them are the easy part! What are some ways you deal with stress in college? Let me know in the comments!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.