They say Junior year is the most stressful year of college, and I’m reporting to tell you that is absolutely correct. Sometimes it’s fun – like football games, tailgates, and parties…and sometimes it’s not so fun – like waking up for 9am’s after pulling all nighters in the library with a quad shot espresso to help me get through midterms. In my 3 years of college so far, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that college is basically a giant balancing act of academics, a social life, and health (not to mention the societal pressure to pursue part-time jobs, roles in organizations and clubs, leadership positions, volunteering events, etc). I remember coming across a Venn diagram that sums it up pretty well, and it looks something like this:
It can sometimes feel like we have to sacrifice one thing to excel at another. And it makes sense, there’s only so many hours in the day and only so much energy we can exert before we overwork ourselves. But playing the balancing act and shifting around tasks to prioritize the important ones can be pretty stressful, especially when everything seems important.
After 3 years of college, however, I’ve gained some insight into helpful tools, habits, and resources that make the whole experience a little less stressful and a bit more manageable. These are personally the tools that I’ve found most helpful for myself, but if you’re finding yourself exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed, I hope these tips can help you out as well!
Stay organized and make a plan
There’s a ton of organizational tools out there – planners, notebooks, apps, etc. I personally love using iCal! Either the night before or at the start of the day, I input all my upcoming classes, meetings, events, and activities into my iCal on my laptop. I have different colors for different categories, and turn on reminders for certain ones. The best part about using my iCal is that it’s synced across all my devices, so I can get notifications on my phone and Apple watch which ensures I always know what I have going on! In addition to iCal, I like to use my notes app to make a plan around these events to make the most efficient use of my time. I’ll jot down what assignments I want to work on between classes, or make a plan to clean my room, go grocery shopping, etc. In general, making a concrete plan of what I want to do with my time and having a system where I can physically see it makes me more productive and reduces that overwhelming feeling!
Work productively and efficiently
When you have a lot of work ahead of you, it may seem overwhelming and daunting to get started. This often leads to procrastination, which only makes your workload more stressful. I’ve found that the best way to reduce the stress of a big workload is to just…get working! The best way for me to tackle my work is to take it outside. I can’t get work done in my apartment, because I view it as my space to relax. So I like to grab my laptop and charger and find a good workspace, which for me is usually a cafe. I order a latte and set myself an allotted amount of hours to spend there with a list of things I want to get done, which works amazingly well! I’d also recommend prioritizing your workload and making sure you know the order in which you want to complete your work. This way, once you start on your huge list of tasks, you know exactly what to do when, and don’t get lost or change your mind midway.
Indulge in Self-Care
Everyone needs a little bit of TLC every once in a while! Self care looks different for everyone, but anything that provides as a little mental getaway and recharges your mind & soul sounds pretty damn good. Here’s some things that I do for #selfcare:
- Clean up – Having a neat, clean, and aesthetically pleasing environment is always something that puts my mind at ease. My physical clutter transfers over as mental clutter, so clearing up my surroundings always gives me a feeling of clarity and peace. Also, spicing up your room with some fun decor never hurts!
- Meditate – With so much going on, a quiet moment is all I need sometimes. I light a candle, grab a pillow, and sit on the floor in silence – sometimes I’ll set a timer, and sometimes I’ll let it be indefinite. In this time, I let my thoughts flow freely and let my mind wander without any restriction. Being able to hear my thoughts pass by without any distractions always brings me a surprising amount of clarity and always leaves me feeling recharged and ready to take the next thing on!
- Pamper – I love a good pamper night! To me, that usually comes after the cleaning and meditation. I put on whatever show I’m watching on Netflix, grab a face mask and maybe some nail polish, and get ready to unwind before I sleep.
There’s no doubt that college can be extremely stressful and draining at times. That’s why it’s important to be equipped with different tools and tricks that can help reduce a bit of that stress and anxiety. I hope reading through a few of my recommendations can allow you to prevent yourself from burning out. No matter how overwhelming it may seem, you got this!