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Prioritizing Yourself When Stress Starts To Hit

Believe it or not, I’m stressed out to no end as I write this. Between work, impromptu assignments, and sorority recruitment this weekend, I just can’t catch a break — never mind the fact that I just signed up for a fellowship with UMass Hillel. This heaviness is the current reality for many undergraduate students. Get this, we’re not even two weeks into school! So, today I will be giving you some tips that I’ve been implementing to make sure my mental health stays secure this semester. 

School always comes first.

This sounds so cliché and overused, but at the end of the day, it’s the most important thing to remember. We are paying to be here for a reason, learning has to be your number one priority. I have a particularly hard professor this semester that doesn’t seem to care that I have a life outside of their course. We have to learn to adapt to these kinds of situations. It’s okay to challenge yourself with a busy schedule, but be sure to ground yourself every now and then to reflect on why you’re really here. If things get too tough to handle, it’s completely fine to drop something that you know is not a priority to free up some space on your to-do list. This doesn’t make you a quitter — it just makes you human. Don’t beat yourself up for doing what you need to do in order to make it through without burnout. 

Talk to people.

This was something I didn’t find myself doing until I reached my breaking point and ended up crying on the phone with my mom about my schedule at 6:00 a.m. I’m 20 years old and can’t rely on mom all the time to fix my problems, but God did it feel good to get it all out and gain more perspective. We all need help at some point. If you’re too nervous to talk to someone higher up, like a professor or club president, talk to someone who has more in common with you first to test the waters. When things started to pick up this semester and I was sent into a spiral, I decided to talk to a good friend in my sorority. They assured me that I’m not the only one who’s gone through this and that they’ll support me and be there to talk whenever I need. They reminded me that though I love it, sororities are not the end-all-be-all. That made me feel so much better and gave me the push I needed to talk to the Chapter President and Vice President of Scholarship, both of whom told me that I will be completely fine and can be as involved in the sorority this semester as I want to be. 

Get sleep.

For me personally, this one is a big deal. Having epilepsy and being on medication for it means that if I don’t sleep, I’m putting myself at a much higher risk to be prone to a seizure. Nobody wants that. If you have one pesky assignment but your body is physically giving out, just go to bed. It’s better to deal with it in the morning with fresh eyes. Our bodies need time to rejuvenate themselves and that’s just a fact of life. We cannot try to go on without sleep.

Don’t procrastinate.

This is so important. My upcoming semester is really going to help me get over this hurdle that I always struggle with. Get your work done during daylight hours, or at the very least just start it. You need to face that kind of stuff head-on. Once you get in your groove, you’ll feel 100x better. Waiting until the last moment can only send bad situations your way. I’ve learned this again and again, so take it from a pro. Also, you should come up with a tactic to help you regain focus, whether that be going to grab a drink or doing a little stretch. My personal favorite is having my roommate give me a little slap in the face, but I don’t recommend that one haha… Just be aware, be focused, and be mindful of time.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you out, but most of all I hope this article will make you feel less alone in whatever situation you’re currently dealing with. Stuff happens, and when it does, we must make the best of it. There will always be a rainbow at the end of this storm, I promise.

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Kate Katz

U Mass Amherst '24

Kate is a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a New Yorker at heart. She is a journalism major and hopes to work in the broadcast field. Kate also writes for the Amherst WIRE on their entertainment team. She is so grateful to be able to share her work with such a wide audience of readers.
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