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A Guide to Self-Care During Stressful Weeks

With the amount of schoolwork I’ve been given, this past month feels like a continuous ascent on a roller coaster. Each time I conquer a busy week, I’m naïve in believing that the next week would be any better. Shocker: it’s not. Sometimes, it’s a lot worse and has me wishing it looked like the week I was stressing over earlier. 

I don’t mean to scare anyone, but finals are creeping up and are right around the corner. That means fewer hours of sleep each night, headaches, feelings of self-doubt, and stress-inducing days. These are not healthy habits to pick up, even if they are only temporary. To avoid these daunting side effects of being a college student, here is my guide to generating stress-free weeks while putting yourself first while still prioritizing school. 

Step 1:

I cannot imagine my life without my agenda. I use it every single day and log all my important assignments weeks before their due dates. Agendas are a great way to stay organized and stay familiar with dates of larger assignments/important dates. I recommend starting these assignments at least a week before they’re due so you don’t feel rushed to complete them and still have time to balance the work/commitment of that week. If you don’t have an agenda, I recommend making to-do lists for each day of the week, so you stay on top of schoolwork and other things you attend to. Personally, I keep both a planner and a running notes doc of my to-do lists to make sure I’m on top of everything. There is something so rewarding about crossing an item off a list. Most importantly, planning is a key player in assuring you’re getting everything done and helps take away the stress of intimidating days. 

Step 2:

While you’re planning your days and assignments out with an agenda or to-do lists, journaling also helps with keeping you grounded. Learning how to process and express our emotions is a huge proponent of journaling. Writing your thoughts down does two things: 1) is an emotional release of your thoughts and feelings, and 2)attunes your mind to your emotions. Once you journal, you can step away and see all the aspects of your life you’re wrestling with and navigate ways to resolve them. 

Step 3:

During stressful weeks, you’re so consumed with work that you forget to feed your body properly. Eating is essential in providing your brain with the nutrients it needs to function while improving your mood. Nuts, bananas, eggs, berries, leafy greens, and chocolate are all great foods to boost your brainpower and keep you in a good mood. In addition, don’t forget to reward yourself with your favorite foods after a stressful week. 

Step 4:

On the topic of health, exercise is something I always turn to when I’m stressed. Even if you don’t think you have time to do an elaborate workout, a simple fifteen-minute walk around campus will do the trick. It’s a great way to step away from work, increase endorphins, and reflect on yourself all while reducing levels of the body’s stress hormones. 

Step 5:

When I plan out my weeks, I always make sure to set some time to hang out with my friends. To kill two birds with one stone, I try to schedule them during meals. You deserve to see your friends and socialize even if you’re workload is overflowing. Seeing friends makes you feel less lonely and more human. 

Step 6:

This may sound cliché, but one of the most crucial tools in tackling weeks like this is to believe in yourself. Mindset plays such a prevalent role in your performance. According to Dr. Tim Elmore in Habitudes, he shares, “you will usually perform at a level that reflects your perspective. If you think you are average, you’ll perform in an average way” (17). It’s self-explanatory, but your perspective of yourself plays such a pivotal role in your potential. 

Step 7:

Lastly, please set enough time for yourself to get the deserved sleep your body needs. You’re only self-sabotaging yourself if you’re giving your body less sleep as your days will be harder to get through when you cannot keep your eyes open. In addition, although it might be tempting, try not to go on your phone or computer right before you sleep to let your eyes rest. Instead, journaling is the perfect replacement. 

We are all in college to learn and further our higher education, which leads to the inevitable mass of assignments that can produce a lot of stress. It’s overwhelming, but I promise it is manageable, especially if you follow this guide. 

Good luck on overcoming the rest of the semester! 

Gabriella Nisco is a sophomore at Loyola University Maryland studying Communication and Writing. On-campus, she is involved in the Student Leadership Society, Dance Company, Relay for Life, Public Relations Student Society of America, and of course Her Campus. In her free time, she loves to read, scroll through Pinterest, online shop, dance, and hang out with her friends.
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