7 Ways to Start the School Year Stress-Free

The days of summer are winding down, and before you know it, your life is going to be filled with professors, essays, and quizzes. But before you start dreading the all-nighters you’re going to be pulling at the library, take a step back from your list of textbooks and start getting ready for the classroom with activities that won’t put you in a panic.   

1. Do your homework early.

We don’t mean start doing your calculus problems before you step foot in the classroom, but get yourself prepared! See if your professors have any materials online about what you need to succeed in their class.

Ingrid, a senior at Auburn University, says, “I like to read the syllabi before my first day of classes. That way I know exactly what to expect before I even walk through the door.”

Quickly scanning through a professor’s syllabus, classroom procedures or list of required materials will help you ask more constructive questions on the first day and might even help you decide whether or not the class is a good fit for you.

2. Make a checklist for the school year.

Maybe you finally want to get your dream internship or be a fitness fiend and hit the gym four times a week for a month. Whatever your goals, crossing items off your checklist will keep you motivated throughout the school year. Make sure your list is all about you and not about the classroom (even though that is important)! Accomplishing activities or pushing yourself to achieve health or career goals will leave you with a feeling of satisfaction that writing a 12-page paper can’t provide. You’ll feel less like a college zombie and more like a college boss.

If you’re worried about not sticking to your checklist, get your BFF or roommates to collaborate on it and cross your dreams off together!

3. Treat yo’ self.

Parks and Recreation had it right when it comes to spoiling yourself. Doing something nice for yourself, like a spa day or buying yourself a nice pair of shoes to hit the quad in, will be a reminder that you’re a person and not just a student.

Alexa, a junior at the University of South Carolina, says, “I think the best de-stressing activity is getting your nails done, which doesn’t have to be expensive! You can just get a nail polish change for like $8 and it’s still a treat.”

It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be big, but it never hurt to do something strictly for yourself. Think about what you do on the weekends or when you have a day off. Do you go on a mini shopping spree? Do you get milkshakes with your friends? Do something that makes you happy before classes even start and the positivity will carry over into the semester. 

4. Get organized!

There’s no better way to start the school year than by buying every cute school supply Target has to offer—including your dream planner to write down everything, like your dog’s birthday.

Madeline, a senior at Oregon State University, says, “My recommendation is to get a planner, get your school supplies organized by class and map your route to classes beforehand.”

Set aside an hour or two to write down due dates from your syllabi in your planner and write out your schedule so you can visualize it. You may know the campus like the back of your hand, but when you planned out classes, you may not have realized you have 10 minutes to get from one end of campus to the other. Knowing little details about your schedule will leave you with fewer surprises on your first day back.

Related: 10 Ways to Calm Pre-College Nerves

5. Start a meditation program.

Unlock your inner chi and find a meditation program that fits your schedule. The queen of everything, Oprah, teamed up with Deepak Chopra to make the 21-Day Meditation Program to help get you out of the everyday repetition of life and help you see the world for all of the good it has to offer.

If you’re not up for the commitment, browse the App Store for a meditation program that fits your needs.

Meditation isn’t just for your yoga teacher. Juliana, a senior at Temple University, thinks it's essential and everyone should be doing it. “Mindfulness meditation grounds you and makes you become aware of what's currently in front you, so then you're able to put everything into perspective and move forward with a clearer mind,” she says.

Meditation is the perfect excuse for “me” time, giving you a chance to shut your electronics and the world off for a few minutes a day.  

6. Craft your troubles away.

We know you have a Pinterest board dedicated to all of the DIY projects you wish you had time to do! Pick one craft you have time for and can proudly showcase in your dorm or apartment.

Alex, a senior at Slippery Rock University, thinks crafting is the best way to spice up your apartment or dorm for the new school year. “I’m always looking for ways to switch my space up without spending a ton of money,” she says. “You can’t beat a canvas with an inspirational quote on it or a collage of your favorite pictures.”

A good way to add freshness, cuteness, and oxygen to your pad is to build your own succulent garden. Try recreating this succulent paradise using mini mason jars to put your green thumb to work.

7. Get your girl gang together.

Kick it old school with your BFFs and have a sleepover full of matching pajama sets, sleeping bags, and Mary-Kate and Ashley movies before you hit the books again. Or get together for a dinner party at one of your places.

“My high school friends and I always plan one night at the end of the summer to get together before we go back to school,” says Erin, a senior at Duquesne University. “We all call off of work, pick a nice place to eat and then get ice cream at our favorite place.”

When you’re with your besties, stress goes out the window because it’s time to focus on each other, your inside jokes and, of course, the gossip you forgot to share in the group message.

Don’t treat back-to-school season like an assignment. It should be a time for a fresh start and perspective on your school year. Start participating in stress-free activities before your first lecture of the year and those good habits will carry on into the school year.