8 techniques to help you manage stress | Health & Wellness Services

3. Plan backwards

If you’re trying to work through multiple assignments, projects or study guides, it may feel like you’ll never get it all done. If this sounds like you, start by writing down each assignment, deadline and exam date you have coming up. Then, use this list to help plan your time backwards. Prioritize your work based on deadlines and the amount of time you think it will take to complete each task. 

It may also be helpful to create a schedule for yourself, so you can stay on task. For instance, you may decide to work on your paper for two hours in the afternoon, take a break, and then start working on your study guides for a couple more hours in the evening. While creating a roadmap in advance may not give you more time in the day, it can help you visualize exactly where your time is going and how to best use it. We recommend using a paper planner or testing out apps like Todoist. 

4. Do the next right thing

If you’re sitting there looking at your list and feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, try to focus on doing the ‘next right thing.’ Ask yourself, what is one small step that you can take to propel you forward or gain momentum? 

If you’re struggling to pin down what the ‘right’ thing is, take a moment to check back in with yourself. What feels most overwhelming? Can you break it into pieces? Can you tackle one small thing right now? Have you taken care of your most basic needs, like eating, resting and taking breaks? 

Repeating this check-in process any time you start to get overwhelmed again can help you identify what you need in the moment, so you can make it through the end of the semester in one piece. 

5. Relinquish control

Once you’ve submitted an assignment or project, that’s it. Relinquish your control over the outcome and allow yourself to accept that it’s in your instructor’s hands now. Try to avoid ruminating over things you may have gotten wrong, problems you didn’t finish or areas where you could have done better. Instead, allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief that you completed something on your to-do list and you can now focus on other things. 

6. Make time for yourself

As you work through your study schedule, don’t forget to prioritize and make time for yourself. Taking care of your needs outside of studying can help you stay motivated, boost your mental health and feel better overall. 

Focus on making time for things like: 

  • Getting adequate sleep (7 to 9 hours per night). Setting a consistent bedtime and waking time can help. If you feel groggy during the day, try taking a 15 to 20 minute nap. 
  • Take breaks to rehydrate and eat snacks or meals. Eating a variety of foods can help you improve your energy and avoid hunger pangs. 
  • Get moving. Spend some time each day getting outside or moving your body. If you feel short on time, consider going for a 10-minute walk or taking a quick class at the Rec Center. 

7. Revel in the small victories

Allow yourself to bask in the success of small victories. Whether you’ve been studying for one exam or several, it’s important to acknowledge the progress you’ve made.  

Here are a few ideas you can use:  

Have a nice dinner. Cook your favorite meal or order something special from your favorite local restaurant. 

Take a day off. Give yourself a day off to relax and recharge, whether that means curling up on the couch, getting outside or spending time with friends. 

Treat yourself. Congratulate yourself on your progress with a small treat, such as an extra special coffee order. 

Practice gratitude. Take some time to express gratitude for those who have been helping you study or who have supported you through stressful moments (including yourself!). 

8. Don’t do it all on your own 

Sometimes, it takes a village and it’s important to remember that you don’t have to navigate stress, anxiety or other challenges on your own. Instead, connect with campus resources to help you through it. 


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