The Stress Awakens!

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December can be a stressful time as you head into Final Exams. 

Do it Now! Don’t Procrastinate – 85-90% of college students procrastinate on their school work.  Putting things off, even if you believe you do your best work under pressure, can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and giving up.  Procrastination not only lowers your quality of work (imagine how good that assignment would be had you given it more time) but the stress related to procrastination can cause you to lose sleep, be irritable or avoid other relationships, it cuts into your personal time and exercise/healthy habits.  All the things that help create a good life balance are thrown off because of procrastination.

Tips to overcoming procrastination:

  • Have a plan and set goals for yourself.
  • Motivate yourself. Give yourself reasons why getting it done now or early is beneficial and remind yourself of those reasons.
  • Schedule your time for completing tasks and stick to them.
  • Learn to say “no”. There are always a million things you could be doing instead but right now you need to stay focused.
  • Identify reasons or excuses that arise that contribute to your procrastination and address them. Learn to redirect yourself and your attention.
  • Realize that overcoming procrastination will take time. Habits take time to make and to break, reward yourself with the positive habit you are developing.

Get Organized – Creating a balance in your life with school, work, hobbies and family & friends gives a feeling of control which helps with stress.

  • Record assignments as they are given in a planner. Address them right away, don’t put it off.
  • Work on large projects over time, not at the last minute. A semester spreadsheet will aid in keeping track of things that seem to be far away.
  • Keep track of your syllabi for classes. Immediately record big assignments in your planner.
  • Record appointments and tasks that are scheduled. (Make sure you see your doctor and dentist regularly)
  • Mark off assignments and tasks as they are completed.
  • Color code your life. Use one color for each class.  Red=English, Blue=Math, etc…
  • Use your cell phone calendar, reminder alarms, quick notes. Put it to work for you.
  • Schedule time for yourself, your friends and family, work and studying.

Take Breaks – You need to balance your work and play! 

  • Plan activities for fun. Going out with friends, go for a walk, watching a football game, volunteering, take an art class that isn’t graded, go to meditation… the possibilities are endless but necessary.
  • Exercise! Not only are you helping your health physically you are releasing endorphins that help with pain and are “feel good” chemicals.
  • Call a friend and talk for few minutes. It gets you mind on something else other than the stresses of school.
  • Take a quick shower or bath. Not only will your peers appreciate the fresh smell you share but water is a therapeutic way to relax and gather your thoughts.

Set Goals – Goals are a great way to keep you on track.  When setting goals use the SMART method. 

  • S-Specific (Be as specific as possible when setting a goal, you may need to divide one goal into several goals)
  • M-Measurable (A goal needs to be able to be measured as to achieving the goal, you may need to think specifics here)
  • A-Achievable (Know your limits but remember to push yourself a bit)
  • R-Realistic (Be realistic, if you are 4 feet tall you are probably not going to suddenly grow 2 feet to dunk in basketball)
  • T-Timely (It is better to have goals broken down from long term to short them, even day to day so you don’t lose track of the goal over time. Think of short term goals as steps to achieving your long term goals.)

Positive Self Talk – Words hurt and can have negative consequences.  Even if the words are out of our own minds!

  • Challenge negative beliefs or thoughts about yourself.
  • Identify and replace negative thoughts…

o   Situation: Wake up in the morning.

o   Negative thought: I have too much to do today and will never get it all done.

o   Feelings: Hopeless, anxious

o   Distortion: All or nothing thinking

o   Response: Stay in bed and not go to any classes

  • Change the negative thoughts (once you have identified them)

o   Situation: Wake up in the morning

o   Rational thought: Today is going to be very busy.  I’ll do what I can and get the most important tasks done first.  The rest can wait until tomorrow.

o   Feeling: Hopeful with a little anxiousness but a sense of accomplishment later

o   Response: Get out of bed and make a list of prioritizing tasks for the day

Manage Your Time, Don’t Let It Manage You!

  • Make a “To Do” list daily and cross of items as they are completed. If you need to carry something over, make sure to add it to the top of the next day’s list.  Be sure to reward yourself with completion of all tasks!
  • Don’t be afraid to say “NO”. You might need to make some adjustments to times or locations.  Don’t be afraid to let your friends know.
  • Determine your most productive time. Are you a morning or night person?  Use that time to be the most efficient.
  • Schedule time for yourself. Play time is just as important as work/study time.
  • Schedule time for dedicated studying. Stick to it and make sure you don’t keep putting it off.
  • Not sure where to get started? Record your time spent over a couple of weeks.  Be honest, if you watched TV for 3 hours while studying… were you really studying? Or, did you sleep 12 hours?  You were just going out for dinner and it turned into a 5-hour social hour… Make sure to record that.  Look back and see where your time is going.
  • Get a good night’s sleep! 6-8 hours is what you need for the brain to reset and be ready for the next day.  Alcohol, electronics and stress can all effect the quality of your sleep.  Know how you are affected.