Staying on top of stress management

Rachel Borashko

As the intensity of the semester ramps up, we often find ourselves lost in books, assignments, professors’ offices, journal articles and projects. Getting lost in the sea of academia, it can be hard to find myself.

“Time management!” the university yells back. Sure, but here’s the reality: Sometimes there is literally just too much to do for the time that we have available.

I find that the key to my success is not only about time management but even more so about stress management. The thing is, in college, there is always more to do. I will always have another paper due. Another project to do. Another meeting to schedule. Another class to attend. Suddenly it’s 3 a.m. and I don’t know when the last time I took a break was.

A lot of us live in high stress, no matter how effectively we manage our time. This is when stress management comes into play. Stress management is far more than just time management. It is mental health management.

I think it is important around this time in the semester to remind ourselves that we all need a little “me time.” Sometimes, “me time” is the only stress management you need. This can mean a variety of things, but it mostly comes down to those two magical words from Donna Meagle: Treat yo’self. Let yourself have a night off. I know that you could be working on that homework assignment or you could pick up that extra shift at work, but if you do that every time you could, you’re going to put your mental health at risk, and that’s just not worth it.

So, take a night off. Take a hot bath. Work out, if that’s something that relaxes you. Drink a beer or a glass of wine. Order a pizza and eat the whole thing. Binge-watch Netflix and don’t feel guilty about it. Turn off your phone and read a book. Don’t worry about anything other than yourself. It’s refreshing.

Meditation is an extremely effective technique for many people attempting to manage their stress. When people first see or hear about meditation it is not uncommon for them to think, “Why would I want to sit on a cushion and do nothing?” It seems a little crazy at first, sure, but it can be really helpful. Taking the time to simply sit can often bring a sense of calmness, of contentment, and shed new light on problems that you may be having in your daily life. There is an old saying, “You should meditate for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

My last bit of advice is probably the hardest to follow: Try to maintain some semblance of a sleep schedule. College students are notorious for pulling all-nighters in an attempt to cram as much information into their brains as possible for a test, or to get that paper done that is suddenly due tomorrow.

Of course, some of that can be solved through time management. But sometimes, there really is just too much to do. In these instances, I encourage you to remember that your mental health is extremely important, and you may want to consider it more important than getting a perfect grade on that project. Sleep can have a huge effect on mental health.

Put yourself before your academic work. You deserve the same effort that you dedicate to your assignments. School is important. Learning is important. Grades are, unfortunately, important. But do not forget that you are worth more than any of those things combined. Don’t be too hard on yourself.