There are a million and one articles about “how to beat stress” at the end of the semester, and this, admittedly, is another one. But hopefully you are able to modify it to meet your needs and prepare for the impending doom that is end-of-semester madness.
1. Use Sundays to schedule out your week
Obvious, right? But until you make the conscious decision and effort to actually do it, you might overlook making a schedule. Doing it on Sundays is great for a few reasons. For one, you likely don’t have much going on. For two, it’s before your week starts, so you’re not stuck on Tuesday night trying to figure out what’s due the next day. Instead, you get time to breathe and think. Take advantage of the freedom that sometimes exists on Sundays to do something proactive. It won’t kill you.
2. Make time to eat chocolate
Feel free to replace “eat chocolate” with any other food or activity that you enjoy. This is basically a metaphor for making time to decompress. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks while studying actually makes your studying more effective. Taking breaks from “mental tasks” improves both your productivity and creativity while saving you from stress and exhaustion, according to The New York Times article, “To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break.” And this doesn’t just apply to studying. The idea of stopping to eat some chocolate can be applied to doing homework, reading or working on group projects. Now, these breaks should be relatively short; maybe as long as it takes you to eat a chocolate bar. You’ll be less productive after your break if you have to stop long enough to drive to Wal-Mart to get one, so make sure you have some on hand.
You might read the rest of the article and just think, “okay, whatever.” But this part is giving you permission to not only take time away from work, but also to eat candy. Just saying.
3. Use social media sparingly and effectively
Use social media sparingly, okay, that makes sense. But effectively, you say? How does one use social media effectively? Well, friend, you go in with a plan. Know what you are going to check (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and the like) and know what you’re looking for. Social media is a time sucker, and it sucks hardest when you need to be doing something else. If you tell yourself that you’re going to check Instagram and stay on only as long as it takes to look at the new posts in your feed, you’ll be good. This kind of ties in with that “eat chocolate” thing, but this is something that you’ll inevitably end up doing. Limit it. Make it worthwhile. You can do it.
4. Make to-do lists
You’ve heard this a million times, but here’s a new approach: Make to-do lists. But you don’t have to follow them. Sometimes just making these lists can be therapeutic. The possibly huge list of things you realize you have to do may not make you feel very good, but there can be some peace in writing it all down and organizing it. Maybe not. You can make the call on this one.
5. Force yourself to work ahead
No fairy godmother is going to swoop down and inspire you to write that paper any earlier than the night before. Be your own fairy godmother and make yourself do it anyway. So much of our stress comes from putting things off until the last minute. Assume that you’re going to procrastinate. But once you consciously acknowledge that, you can stop yourself from following through. It won’t kill you.
Students of Franklin College, you may be able to eliminate stress entirely, but you can proactively reduce it. We’re rooting for you. Maybe some of these tips can help.