In my estimation, April and May are the most stressful months of the entire academic year. You come back from spring break, only to go on Easter break, and the last day of classes is looming. This means you probably have a back-breaking amount of reading, studying, and paper writing to be doing. You are also figuring out summer or post-grad plans, registering for class, attending events, selecting housing (that’s a particular joy for a group of friends), and trying to enjoy the random nice days outside after a miserable winter. If there was a mantra for this time of year, I think it would be “There’s never any time!”. You may be too young for that particular Saved By The Bell reference but if you have 2 minutes I encourage you to check out this quick run through of the episode on YouTube, you won’t be disappointed (Cue the intense music & spandex) – SAVED BY THE BELL.
So, if you are counting yourself among the completely stressed out then it’s time to do something about it. The truth is that if you can learn how to deal with stress in college than you are going to be in a much better place when you’re working 60 hours a week, clients are on your case, and you’re trying to retain some semblance of a social life. Trust me.
Eat and Sleep Well
There are a hundred excuses why you don’t have the best eating habits right now ranging from not finding what you want in the dining hall to not being able to afford a ton of produce from the grocery store. Instead of trying to do a massive overhaul of your eating habits focus on one or two things. Eat more fruits/veggies, drink more water, try not to eat a ton late at night, eat breakfast, etc. Your next step is to try to get one some sort of consistent sleep schedule. It’s not easy to do but not getting enough sleep is likely the number one thing preventing you from feeling like a fully functioning human being.
If you have work to do then you need to get out of your room or social spaces. Go reserve a private room at the library or find an empty classroom and get to it. If you’re feeling particularly brave, leave your phone at home. Your Instagram feed will be much more interesting if you’re not looking at it every 15 minutes. Oh and we all have that friend that isn’t exactly the best influence on us when it comes to buckling down and getting school work done. Avoid that person like the plague.
Give Your Brain A Break
All you need to is 30 minutes. If the gym is your thing then head on down to RecPlex for a chance to release your stress on the cardio machine of your choice. Lift a weight, maybe a few times. Heck, walk around campus at a “I woke up late for class” pace. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety/depression, improve self-esteem, and improve sleep. Go sweat it out! You can also just take a break and relax. Go find a quiet place on campus and give yourself a moment to reflect. Do you know there’s a zen garden on campus? Find it.
You have a lot of things to get done but they all have different deadlines. Break big projects into smaller parts and give yourself deadlines/check points so that you’re not pulling all-nighters to get things done. Things are going to pop up throughout the next few weeks and you need to decide now how are you going to respond. Some things you’re going to need to deal with immediately, others you can postpone, and some you should just plain ignore.
Seek out support.
Who do you trust on campus besides your friends? Sometimes our friends can be a part of our stress so it’s always good to have some other mentors and resources to chat with. These can be professors, staff members, or Jesuits that you know and trust. In addition, take advantage of free resources that exist to help you deal with stress including talking with someone at Counseling & Psychological Services. Some day you will pay a pretty penny to talk to a therapist so enjoy your free sessions now!
If an internship or job search is contributing to your stress level, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Career Planning to talk more about that. We can help you get on the right track and bring your anxiety level down so you can focus on making the most of the last weeks of the school year.
Meredith Tornabene, Associate Director