Trying to survive in college is stressful in and of itself; add exams, lack of sleep, and anxiety to the mix and you’re in for a rough time. Here are some helpful tips to stay sane yet studious.
Typically, I like to do investigative pieces — this is a bit of a deviation from my normal style but I found it quite fitting as we’re finishing off midterms and on the cusp of finals season. Yep, the exams and deadlines are here and we’re all in a frenzy of stress, anxiety, and a lack of sleep (which we all know we desperately need). The eyebags are forming, and so is the long, expensive list of Venti Starbucks Nitro Cold Brews, Monsters, and Guayaki Yerba Mates. But to be honest, I just hope you’re all doing okay. Or at least surviving. Anyways, I just thought I’d share some ways to not go completely batshit crazy from all the damn stress you’re probably facing right now. (And trust me, I’m quite knowledgeable on the subject, as I’m a literal human ball of worry.)
I know this isn’t a fresh, new idea, but it’s honestly the best way to assure you don’t feel as if you’re literally drowning in an ocean of papers, projects, and deadlines. And it’s a lot simpler than it seems — you don’t need to buy an expensive planner or be a bullet journaling master to tackle time management. Simply get a piece of paper (or use your phone notes app if you prefer) and just write out everything that’s stressing you out — all the things you have to do, and when they need to be done by. Literally just spill your brains out onto the page.
By releasing everything from your head to a documented place allows your mind to be relieved from all the pressure of remembering these tasks. Then plug them into your calendar! Plan out the week day-by-day and suddenly your tasks will seem much less daunting: as long as they’re spread out into time chunks — cramming is not the move!
Assure you’re keeping your best interests in mind when making decisions. If you know you have a fat paper to write in TWO days that you have yet to start, then it’s probably in your best interest to take up your friend’s last-minute, yet extremely enticing offer to go to that party. Let yourself have enough time to complete your task without the pressure of the deadline waving over your head — pulling an all-nighter while chugging two sour apple reigns from the 7-eleven across the street is not the best situation to be in (coming from personal experience!). Not only can this lead to a mental breakdown (guilty), but it means you’re not doing your best work. But I know you’re still going to procrastinate, so to assure your all-night cram/work session won’t completely destroy your health, make sure you’re taking short breaks in which you leave your workspace and take a stretch or stroll. If you’re going to consume high quantities of caffeine, make sure to balance your water intake with the caffeine (not only will hydrating keep your mind sharp, but it will make the caffeine much more effective and long-lasting). Also, assure you’re eating healthy snacks — some of these could include nuts, berries, granola bars, or yogurt. NO TAKIS. PLEASE.
Sleep is a precious gift. I know us college kids cherish (and I mean CHERISH) our sleep despite sacrificing it constantly. I know all the doctors tell us we need roughly 8 hours of sleep but honestly, I know I’m not getting it and it’s completely MY FAULT. Sleep is extremely crucial if we want our mental health to be in tip-top shape — one way to combat the lack of sleep I know we all have is by taking power naps. No, not four-hour naps that send us into another dimension of time, I’m talking about 15-20 minute naps in between classes. This short bit of sleep can give you the power to push through the day and be productive when you’re feeling like you can’t keep goin’ anymore. But make sure to be self-disciplined: don’t keep hitting snooze, but give yourself an incentive to get up, such as a good ol’ cuppa joe.
BALANCE YOUR TIME!
One of the most important tips I can give you is to just be self-aware of your productivity. If you know you’re overworking yourself, make sure to give yourself time to relax, let loose, and have fun! Reward yourself for your hard work when you know you deserve it. Make plans with friends or just let yourself sit back and veg on the couch! But this goes both ways: if you know you’ve been slacking a bit and you’re stressed from your lack of productivity in the face of a million daunting tasks, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Beating yourself up and calling yourself a failure isn’t going to do you any good. Remind yourself that you are capable of doing great things, pull your bootstraps on, and get your shit done! Take it little by little, assuring you’re not trying to get too much done in a short period of time. Honestly, the hardest part of doing anything is just starting. Type out that title page, start that outline, pull out that textbook, and break out those highlighters. Tell yourself that the task is NOT bigger than you and that you can take it.
Make sure to stay focused though — as I said before: if you know you haven’t been too productive lately, make sure to be intentional about how you’re spending your time. Don’t lay in bed for six hours if you know you have things to do, even if they’re stressing you out. In the end, your lack of productivity will make yourself feel MORE stressed in the end, and can affect the way you view yourself, which has a direct correlation to the quality of your mental health!
I hope some of these tips help you out. But honestly, give yourself a damn break. You’ve got this! You’re doing great. I know all these things are easier said than done, but just make sure you’re taking it all little by little. It’s not the end of the world if you mess up. We all do it – none of us are perfect students – or perfect people at that. Just try your best, plan as much as you can, and make sure you’re doing everything that’s in your best interest. You’ve made it this far, and honestly, that’s a huge achievement in itself! And as I’m sure you don’t hear this enough, I’m proud of you.