5 Helpful Ways to Avoid Feeling Stressed or Overwhelmed

At some point in every semester, most of us will have the feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed creep up on us—if you’re one of the lucky few that doesn’t usually feel like this, remember that everyone experiences stress differently and save these tips for a friend. Maybe it’s your graduating semester (or soon to be) and you’re struggling to find a lead on another job to apply to. Maybe it’s your first semester, you’re struggling to manage your time, and it’s really starting to have a negative effect on you. Or maybe it’s the week right before finals and you’re wondering where all the time has gone—you’re not alone. The following suggestions are some things that you can try out to help yourself avoid feeling stressed or overwhelmed before those dreaded feelings set in.

1. Use a calendar or planner 

If you’re struggling with time management and its causing you to feel overwhelmed on a daily basis, one simple solution is to incorporate the use of a calendar or some sort of planner into your daily life. Whether you prefer to use your phone calendar or a paper planner, mapping out your day can help you a great deal when it comes down to splitting up your time. Visually seeing how your day is going to go will give you a better idea of when you’ll be busy and when you’ll have down time. Some people who choose to use a paper planner also choose to decorate it—this can act as a de-stressor for some as well.

2. Slow down

Just slow down. Sometimes stress can be caused by trying to do too many things in such a quick manner. Try slowing down and taking things one step (or task) at a time. Trying to do too many things at once can be a major stressor for some and can cause a great sense of being overwhelmed. Couple that with the feeling that you’re not giving one task your full effort, and you’ve got even more stress to deal with. Slowing down and doing one thing at a time allows you to focus your full attention on one task and can save you from stressing out. Multitasking is great and extremely helpful at times, but sometimes you just need a break from it.

3. Stay focused

Easier said than done, am I right? Sometimes staying focused is hard. After all, we’re all only human. It can be very overwhelming when you realize that you’ve wasted all of your allotted study time for the day looking at memes and cat videos on the Internet. Setting small goals can potentially help you through study sessions. Instead of reading the entire set of pages that your professor assigned, try reading a chunk of paragraphs (or a chapter or two, depending on how the assignment is set up) and then taking a short break—and by short break I do not mean a social media break, I mean get up and move around. Go get a snack, a drink of water, use the bathroom. Just don’t allow yourself to get too distracted.

4. Break down your day into chunks

This kind of goes back to using a calendar or a planner, but visually breaking down your day into chunks of time can help you see when you’re the busiest. You know your schedule better than anyone else, so blocking off activities that you do at the same time every day (like going to class, or club meetings, or work) first will let you know how much more of your day you can dedicate to other things…like homework and studying, finally squeezing in that workout you’ve been putting off, or binge watching Netflix. Not having to worry about “finding the time” can help you to avoid any feelings of stress.

5. Do something for yourself

This one may be a no-brainer for some, but for others the thought doesn’t come as easily. Take some time to spend on yourself, whether that means getting a pedicure, or just making yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea. Remind yourself that it is okay to take a little break every now and then. Allowing yourself some “me time” every now and then can help keep your brain refreshed and you from feeling stressed out or completely overwhelmed.

Keep these tips in mind when you start to feel stress creeping up on you, and try to catch it before it really sets in! Maybe there will be one, or two, or some sort of combination of a few strategies that especially help. What tips do you have for avoiding feeling stressed out or overwhelmed? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.