Top 5 Tips on How to Manage Senior Stress

Something I have learned during my senior year of college is that no one tells you just how stressful it is. I thought it was just a high level of nervousness, frantic job searches, and exhaustion from years and years of school hitting you all at once. Then I became a senior and understood just how nervous, frantic, and exhausted I could get.

There are resumes to write, graduate school applications to fill out, jobs to apply to, places to research, moving expenses to plan, announcements to send out, classes to finish, and so much more. And that’s on top of everything a senior already has to do daily.

The sheer size of everything I must accomplish has me so afraid sometimes that I don’t know what to do about it.

From my personal experience (as well as many late-night trips to Google), I have narrowed the list of ways to decrease stress down to the most useful pieces of advice I can give you to help reduce the senior overload and increase the amount of self-care. I use a lot of these techniques regularly and find them to be extremely helpful.



The first and easiest step is to take slow, deep breaths. Breathing centers your focus, feeds more oxygen to your brain, and makes you more mindful of the present. Anxiety is often caused by thinking too much about the future so being able to focus on the present, taking it moment by moment and reminding yourself that you only have control over the here-and-now helps reduce stress instantly. The best part is that you can practice taking deep breaths wherever you are.


2. PLAN 

Sometimes the best way to organize your to-do list is to have a plan. Put a calendar on your desk or a planner where you can write everything you have to do today, tomorrow, next week and next month. Plan ahead as much as you can and set due dates for yourself, especially the things that don’t necessarily have a date when it’s due. Creating that goal for that task will help organize everything else you have to do without missing deadlines and feeling overwhelmed.


Take it one step at a time. You only have so many hours in a day and with so many of those hours dedicated to classes, work, and studying, sometimes it’s overwhelming just finding the time to do everything you need to do. The best thing you can do is focus on one thing at a time. After planning out your daily schedule, mark off times to do job searching, resume and portfolio development, interviews, research, and downtime. Schedule in time to take care of yourself too. Then mark off in your planner or your calendar when you’ve accomplished that think for the day.


Become an expert in self-care. This includes eating properly, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising—even if it’s just taking a walk around the block. When your body is healthy, so is your mind. Stress can cause you to neglect our health when dealing with large amounts of stress, but the only way to combat it is to keep your mind and your body healthy. This also includes taking time to do something that helps you relax and enjoy yourself, whether that’s hanging out with close friends, taking a bubble bath, crafting, journaling, playing with a pet, or getting things done so that the list of things to do becomes less and less. Fewer things to do means fewer reasons to stress.


Having a plan and a schedule you can keep is great, but also allow yourself enough time to be human. Plan to mess up, watch too many tv show episodes, forget a deadline, spend too much time with friends, and anything else that deviates from what you thought you had to do that day. It is unrealistic not to expect yourself not to do those things. Give yourself a break. If you don’t get everything done that day that you planned to do, it’s no use beating yourself up about it. Just set a goal to do better tomorrow. Don’t sacrifice your sleep or your health to accomplish everything.

I also suggest seeking professional help if you have tried different techniques and none of them seem to be working. No amount of advice can replace professional assistance, especially with extreme cases such as senior stress. Everyone experiences stress differently and it's realistic to expect that you will feel more stressed about things others might not.

However, I hope that these tips are helpful and comforting when staring down the giant pile of to-do lists and requirements for senior year. I use many of these techniques on a regular basis to manage my stress and they help immensely.

Senior year can be stressful and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Hang in there. It will work out. You’ll see.