Sitting down and having a conversation about stress and anxiety is never easy. However, since my junior year of college officially started a little under a month ago, it’s a conversation I can’t ignore. I want this post to be as candid as possible with the hope that it helps other students going through similar cases.
First, a little back-story. Until my freshman year of college, I dreaded assessments. The second my teacher said the word “exam,” I could immediately feel my muscles tense up and my anxiety take over. Every time I went to study I had this little voice in the back of my head telling me I couldn’t do it, it was too much material to study and that I didn’t have enough time. This stress and anxiety would overwhelm me to the point where I took on the, “I don’t care, I’ll just fail because classes aren’t the end-all-be-all mentality.” I told myself I wasn’t book smart and that I would never be able to become a Dean’s List student and succeed in academics.
So what changed from then to now? First, I switched my major from Business Marketing to Communication Studies; a major that really challenges me to think and inquire about advertising and marketing in a way I never knew it would. Secondly, I stopped listening to the negative voice in the back of my head telling me I couldn’t do it. When I ignored the negativity was when I really began to succeed.
My new positivity allowed me to explore my learning style and how to best study. I grew confident in my learning habits and went from a C/B student to a straight A’s with a few B’s here and there. I made a complete academic 180 and have now been a Dean’s List student for almost two years running.
This is a prime example of practicing self-care in college. I wasn’t happy, so I made a change and really invested in my mental health and happiness.
Plan ahead — I always sit down on Friday afternoons and make a list of what I need to accomplish the following week. I organize the list Monday-Friday and then chronologically hour by hour. Writing things down relieves the stress of thinking I’m going to forget to do something. Once it’s down on paper, I can stop repeating my to-do list over and over in my head. This also helps me to set realistic goals for the next week.
Take a break — Whenever I’m stressed and have a million things on my to-do list, I miss meals, walk past friends without realizing it, and spend way too much time in my head. Maybe you’re the same as me, but for some reason remembering to take breaks is so difficult! I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to take a break every hour while I’m working; even if it’s just to walk to the kitchen to get a snack.
Take time for yourself — This kind of goes hand in hand with taking a break, but for this point, I’m touching on a much larger scale. When was the last time you went to get your nails done, put on a podcast and just walked around campus or even took a nap? Taking time for yourself is absolutely vital to your academic and mental success.
Have a girl’s night — Nothing relaxes me and puts things into perspective better than spending a craft, movie or wine night with some of my close friends. Having the opportunity to get together and rant is SO therapeutic!
Workout or practice yoga — Endorphins are no joke if you’re a stressed-out and exhausted college student. For years, I was convinced that when I was tired, working out will just make me feel even worse. Oh my gosh! This couldn’t be further from the truth. Working out helps to clear your mind and relieve stress. Here is a great resource for six yoga poses that help relieve stress! Is yoga not your thing? You can read my Lazy Girl’s Guide to Fitness for my 10-minute toning routine.
At-home spa night — A spa day is definitely out of my budget as a college student, thankfully I can light a candle, listen to my favorite podcast & lather on my favorite face mask!
Eat healthy foods — When I avoid processed, crappy foods and actually meal prep for the week, it’s crazy how big of a difference it makes in my eating habits. If I have my meals planned out in advance, I’ve found that I’m less likely to be tempted to reach for the snacks throughout the day. (Check out my Pinterest page for some of my favorite recipes!)
Get some sleep — Sleep is one of the first things to go out the window for college students when things get busy. I think there’s a misconception associated with sleep deprivation and lack of sleep. Many students think that the less you’re sleeping, the harder you’re working, however; if you are constantly on-the-go your brain doesn’t have time to rest and recover.
Rely on your support system — Whether it’s your family, friends or significant other relying on a support system to help you out when time get overwhelming is a great way to keep your head on straight.
Ask for help — Asking for help goes hand in hand with relying on your support system. It took me years to finally recognize that asking for help does not mean you’re showing a weakness.