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6 Tips to Avoid Back-to-School Stress

The first week of school is a little like New Year’s Eve. There’s this exhilaration of anticipation where you decide, “This year, I can be better than I what was before.” You think to yourself, “I’m going to study so hard every night! I’m going to work out at the Glimmerglass gym every day! I’m going to keep my room as cute and clean as the day I unpacked my boxes!”

Unfortunately, this New Year’s Eve feeling of “I’m going to be Beyonce tonight and FOREVER!!!” doesn’t fade away when the clock strikes twelve. It follows you Monday through Friday leading to making more and more resolutions, on top of the resolutions that you already made, making it easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed and the very opposite of Beyonce by the time Saturday rolls around.

But you’re not alone: everyone gets stressed and overwhelmed the first week of classes. It’s normal. We all have to readjust to new schedules, get used to sharing a bathroom with twenty other people, and use our laptops for writing essays instead of just using them to watch Netflix.

Inhale, exhale, and fear not! Here are some tips for when you are feeling stressed out:

1. Just breathe! When you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Studies have shown that deep, slow breathing calms the body down. You can just breathe in and out or you can Google breathing exercises for yourself. Calm down; you’re going to get through this!

2. Prioritize! Instead of looking at your to-do list and trying to accomplish everything all at once, think about what you can do now and what you can put off until later. You have to write an essay? Well, that’s due in three weeks so you can put it off in favor of working on that problem set which is due tomorrow. Do what you have to do in order of importance, not in the order that you got them.

3. Set goals and time limits! Just because you don’t have to do something right away, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do it all. You should specifically schedule time to do homework, to work out, or to do laundry. If it’s in your calendar, you’re less likely to forget about it. Reschedule as necessary, but don’t procrastinate.

4. Treat yo self! Take little breaks now and then as treats or rewards for working so hard. You wrote three pages of your six page essay? Watch an episode of your favorite TV show and take time to recharge. You’re not a robot–you need to rest your brain so you don’t get burned out.

5. Stay disciplined! Don’t let things pile up–that’s how you become stressed and overwhelmed. If you stay on top of your school work, you’re less likely to wake up in a panic at 3 a.m. because you forgot you had a six page essay due in the morning.

6. Don’t be afraid to step back! Until they invent clones and time machines, you have to admit to yourself that sometimes you just can’t be everywhere at once. Don’t be afraid to clear your schedule. Is there a class that you could take next semester or in the summer instead of right now? Do you really have to be president of six different clubs or can you just be a member? Can you talk to your boss about cutting back on your work hours? Think about what you can take off your plate and see if it’s possible. You’re not a “failure” or a “loser” if you can’t make an impossible schedule work–you’re only human.

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