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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

As we begin settling in our new classrooms with our coursework, the tendency to become stressed is a lot more prevalent now than it may have been in the summer. This upcoming school year will not only be greeted with excitement, opportunity, and mystery but will also bring confusion and internal conflict. Each semester of classes leads us to a lot of self-growth and realization, whether we realize it or not. That being said, some degree of struggle or change is necessary. And what will these things cause? Lots of overthinking, long hours doing work, and efforts to redirect our futures. And that is completely normal. While our stress levels may seem out of our control at times, there are many helpful ways to recognize mood shifts and deal with rapidly changing thoughts. Although it is very important to stay on top of your assignments and attend lectures, it is equally as important to keep your mental health in check. Let’s make sure you are doing okay! Everybody finds themselves feeling as though there are not enough hours in the day to finish all of the tasks on their agendas. If you set aside time for yourself, you will be a lot happier and more productive. Here are some tips for when you find yourself overwhelmed. 

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1. Visualize and Prioritize

Where do you even begin to start when is seems like you have a million deadlines on your plate? This may be something that you hear a lot, but I cannot stress its importance. Try to set aside a few minutes to write all of your assignments and their due dates down. Even if you are not necessarily a visual person, having an organized planner and using a calendar has helped me keep up with all of my different responsibilities. In college especially, there are a lot of different classes and priorities that seem unbearable at times. From club meetings to exams and papers, students are constantly preoccupied with one task after the next. Instead of looking at these tasks all at once, take it day by day. This way, you will not only be able to tackle every assignment one-by-one, but you will also be a lot more productive. 

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2. Take Breaks!!

As somebody who feels like I must be working or doing something at all times in order to feel productive, I understand why people seem hesitant these days to take breaks. While it is important to work hard and really dedicate a decent amount of time to whatever passions you are pursuing or courses you are taking, it is still important to relax a little. Setting up camp at the library for 15 hours not only sounds terrible but is also not an effective method for getting work done. A study conducted by Tork, a health and hygiene company, says that lunch breaks make 90% of their employees feel a lot more refreshed and ready to work. With this in mind, always remember to give yourself enough time to be productive, but also set aside time to regain energy. You can do this by getting up to walk around or going to grab a snack. This is a great way to build healthy habits before your course load starts to build up. Our bodies are not capable of being productive for 15 hours straight without taking a moment to breathe. 

3. Exercise or Meditate

When it comes to managing stress, some people may turn to snacking or sleeping too much. I am definitely guilty of falling into these traps. I have gradually learned that exercise and meditation can help tremendously when I feel out of focus or under pressure. A lot of times, joining the group fitness workouts and yoga classes offered on campus will help implement exercise and meditation into your schedule. Making time for yourself to release endorphins in natural, healthy ways will ultimately ease any anxious thoughts that come with an overbearing schedule. Having healthy habits that make you happy is a good use of your time. If it will help you mentally focus in the long run, you will ultimately feel better and get more done.

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4. Talk to Friends and Family! Catch Up, Have Some Laughs

This remains the most effective way to relieve stress for me. Whenever I am down or feel like I can’t handle everything I have to accomplish in a given amount of time, I call a friend or family member. From long papers to important exams, sometimes using humor to deal with stress-inducing responsibilities is extremely helpful. Not only does it help you change your mindset about the situation, but it may also even give you a boost of confidence. I find taking a step back and trying to get insight from a third perspective can be helpful and motivating. I also absolutely respect tough love when I am having a busy day and need to relax. There is no better way to be humbled or to have a laugh than talking to loved ones! Laughter is the best medicine.

5. Remind Yourself that College is All About Trial-and-Error

Lastly, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it is okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. I know these tips are aimed at being more productive, but also take them as ways to improve your overall well-being. Like the title suggests, society today seems to encourage a fast-paced lifestyle. Because of this, you may convince yourself that you are a failure if you aren’t constantly trying to further pursue something for your future. It is okay not to have everything figured out. There is no set timeline on when you should declare a major, find a passion, or feel stable in a job. As corny as it sounds, feel comfortable enough with yourself to explore everything the world has to offer. Even though stress is normal, don’t pride yourself on it. Work hard, but take care of yourself! Take things day by day. Accept failures, and work towards improving. Also, celebrate every little success! This will make you a lot happier and healthier day in and day out.

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Isabel Russo

Maryland '22

Isabel Russo is a senior communication - public relations major at the University of Maryland double minoring in general business and creative writing.