Being in college has taught me a lot about stress–more specifically, how to handle stress. I was originally going to post about the Winter Waltz that is put on by my college, but as I was at Waltz I kept thinking about how the ways I face stress have changed. With finals coming up, I wanted to address how I tackle day-to-day stress and the more significant stress that comes with the end of the semester.
Tonight was the Winter Waltz at my college, where everyone dresses up for the evening–think of it like the Yule Ball from Harry Potter! It is held close to finals at the end of the semester, as a way to help students de-stress. I spent all day catching up on chores and going shopping for groceries, so I was definitely excited to get a break! We went out to dinner and had a getting ready party, and then it was time to dance! I had an amazing time, and it was great to catch up with people that I hadn’t seen for most of the semester! Those of you who knew me in high school know that dances were never really something I enjoyed. I often spent the evening studying, usually not efficiently, instead of taking the night off to go out. In college this changed, and I am glad for it. I have learned the importance of taking time to connect with others away from the stresses of school. My connection to my campus and my peers is much stronger as a result, and I am much happier and am able to get more work done in general.
The academic rigor of my classes this year is at least twice that of last year, which definitely has the potential to spike my stress levels. I was quite stressed last year, and because of that I actively sought ways to avoid those pitfalls this year. Prioritization has helped me focus on what is important, and to move from task to task. A sort of ‘tunnel vision’ of sorts. I will still have a general sense of where I am going, but I no longer write out extensive to-do lists. Instead, I focus on what needs to get done and intentionally tackle those tasks while building in time for self-care and relationships with others.
In terms of my classes, I have learned that asking for help is never a weakness. Especially when you are balancing a large course load of diverse classes, asking for help is essential. In my statistics class, for example, I have done just this. Math has never been my forte (hence why I am a humanities double major), but I have found a few strategies that have led to greater success than I thought possible in this class. First, I take the time to understand the material and its applications instead of rushing through the homework. I take notes on the textbook chapters, and make sure that I understand the concepts being built upon. The homework is graded on accuracy, which has inspired me to become more thorough. In addition, I have asked the professor for help outside of class as soon as something confuses me. I have even visited the data center late at night to make sure I was understanding the ins and outs of the software program. Because of this, I have seen a huge improvement in my math skills and I haven’t had to worry about quiz and exam grades. I am also using this math in one of my politics classes this semester, which has helped me to see real-world applications. In short, seeking help before I feel overwhelmed has significantly reduced my stress and increased my confidence.
I have also adopted a new strategy this year for dealing with stress in general: not allowing myself to stress until absolutely necessary. In essence, I don’t allow myself to dwell on things until they need to rise to the forefront of my agenda. This prevents that overwhelmed feeling that would often lead to me not getting any work done last year.
I have also been a lot kinder to myself, and have redefined success. Since I am tackling so many things at once (18 credit hours, a double major, extracurriculars and committees, blogging, volunteering, working, etc.) I celebrate all of my successes, no matter how ‘small’. I have redefined what success means to me in light of my endeavors, and as such have surprised myself with what I have been able to achieve.
This year I have refused to let stress control me, and as a result have been able to live in the moment and enjoy the now. Time has flown by, and I have enjoyed all of my endeavors. I can count on one hand the number of times I have felt overwhelmed, which is a massive improvement from last year!
How do you control stress? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
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