As a junior in college, it has taken me some time to figure out how to combat stress, especially in higher education. It is easy to get wrapped up in how much work feels due every day, as well as the long-term assignments that seem to pile up until a vacation finally hits. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Although I am nowhere near a life without stress, learning to combat it is one of my biggest personal projects right now. Below is a list of a couple of ways to balance school with life, because to me, the best way to balance stress is to assure that I am living my life in the biggest way possible.
- Although spontaneous plans can spark the most joy, sometimes that spontaneity is just not feasible in busy seasons (like midterms!) So, plan! Use a planner, your phone notes, google calendar, and plan out times when you will get your work done, and when you will take a break. Sometimes, it is necessary to put into your calendar “free time”, or “dinner with friends” so you have something to look forward to and to stick with.
- Take breaks
- Yes, take breaks. Not just the every-30-minutes-stand-up type of break, but break hour-long chunks out of your day where you can go and meet your friends, spend some time by yourself, or go for a sweat. When you can find these moments of peace and of happiness, we feel a reset to the bottom line. Checking in with our bodies, giving them a break, and also re-centering within ourselves. When this happens, we remember the bigger things in life outside of the paper and exam we have been working on and are able to return to it later with less stress.
- Learning to say “no”
- Again, I have not perfected this. But this is a huge step in the journey to a life with less stress. If you have a job on campus, are participating in extracurricular activities, and are in school, your time becomes even more valuable. Learning to say no, whether it is to another person, an extra task at your job is invaluable. Once you can start to parse out exactly how you want to spend your free time, you can learn to say “yes” to things that enhance that and “no” to what does not.
- Think about the importance of downtime
- Sometimes, facts and science are what I really need to help me to see the value in things like rest. Studies have shown that sleep, resting, eating well, and finding moments of peace all lead to a healthier, longer, more well-performing life. I have struggled for a while now with some medical conditions, and through all of the doctor’s help, one of the biggest pieces of input is how stress makes it worse. Seeing how stress can impact all parts of our bodies, especially our immune systems, is crucial to understanding why it is so important to try to live our lives with a little less stress. When we feel stressed, trying to remember how everything usually gets completed, and trying to just breathe has been one of the most helpful things for me.
Although I do not think it is possible in our current society to live a life completely free of stress, it is crucial that we all start to try and learn to manage it. We work so hard, and so much, especially students at Colby. Downtime, fun, and rest are essential pieces of life that easily fall to the back of our minds. Consciously trying to bring those back into the foreground and prioritizing them with similar energy we prioritize working is one of the best ways to protect our health, both physical and mental. Take a big deep breath straight into your belly, and try to remember all of the awesome things that are going on in your life, even if it is just that you woke up today, or maybe that the sun is shining.