'How To' Deal with Stress + Anxiety

            Life is just one big stressful situation filled with happy moments. Lately, with college, I have felt as if all I ever am is stressed. Stress is not a new feeling for me either. For years I have allowed myself to get stressed out over small things, big things, huge things, and things that were never mine to stress about to begin with. It hasn’t been until recently that I have felt comfortable with how things are going and I feel as if I have a good amount of control on how much stress I feel.
Understand that You Cannot Do Everything.
I really like to be and stay busy because then I feel like I’m constantly being productive and doing something with my life. Something I have done a lot in the past is take on more tasks than I can handle and this usually ends with me stressed out and now completing the tasks as well as I could have. There are so many dreams I have and I constantly feel like I should be working on all of them right now instead of completing one and then the next. Anxiety, for me, originates when I begin to feel like I have to do and complete everything right now.

One of the many reasons people tend to get stressed out is because they are taking on so many tasks that they are worried about how they will achieve everything in the given amount of time. When you have so much to do and you rush through it all just to complete everything, it usually turns out bad and results in not your best work. You are not living up to your potential. You could have three tests and an essay due in one week and if you do the bare minimum just to be able to say you have completed something because you are allowing the stress to get to you, then you probably will receive a bad grade on everything. That is the main thing we are trying to avoid. I understand that you want to do good on everything but if you find yourself in this situation, find the thing that counts the most and focus on that. Then, when you have perfected that one thing, move on to the next thing that you find to be the next most important. And continue this cycle. Two things could happen. You receive a good grade on the things you spent the most time studying and then got a lower grade on less important assignments, or, because you took it one step at a time, you actually found time for everything and got a good grade on everything. Either one is way better than failing all of the assignments or exams.  Another mistake people often make is they find time to focus on social media or Netflix rather than focus on their work or school assignments. You have to learn to not only prioritize everything that needs to be done but also prioritize those things over distractions and time consuming, unimportant, tasks.

Plan, Plan, Plan.
Now that you have prioritized everything, it is time to plan it all out. Schedule time to work on your assignments and then some just in case your study session runs longer than you expected. One of the hardest things for me is to know I have a ton of events and deadlines coming up but I don’t see the due dates, or time I reserved to work on them, on paper and I begin to freak out because I know so much needs to be done. In my head, I am trying to figure out when I am going to accomplish everything and trying to mentally plan out a schedule. Until I actually write down everything, this is all I am able to focus on. When I write down what I need to do each day, then I follow my plan and if I find I have free time at the end, I will do more work to get ahead, work on some of those less important assignments I pushed back, or if I have accomplished all of that, then I can watch a movie or go out with friends without feeling the stress or guilt from all of the school work. Planning is one of the main sources I find that helps me not have as much stress as before.

Find the Source of the Problem.
Sometimes I will have so much to do that I forget what I am even stressing out about while still being stressed out. You have to find the source of the problem. If I am stressing about an upcoming test, then I will step back and ask myself “why is this causing me to freak out?” Usually I will come up with the answer of “I don’t know this topic, this topic, or this topic.” Then I will work strictly on those things that I am the weakest in before reviewing all of the material. The same thing can go with an assignment. If I am stressed out, I will find the source of that stress in that project and then fix it before completing the rest of the project. If the source of your stress is you feel you do not have enough time to complete everything, then that goes back to planning and prioritizing. Something I would wrongfully do last year is wait until Saturday to do a week’s worth of work and then I would be stressed out when I realized I couldn’t complete 10 assignments in one day. Give yourself time to rightfully complete something and be practical when doing so.

Exercise During Free Time.
I know after looking at the title of this topic you’re probably saying to yourself, “if you do not have time for everything you have going on, what makes me think that you have time to exercise?” You are going to make time for the things you really need to do and exercise is something you really need to do. There are so many health benefits from exercising and a main one that we would be looking at is it releases stress. You have all that pent up stress and your heart is already beating at a million miles an hour so why shouldn’t you go for a 10 minute run just to release everything. It also gives your mind sometime to recharge and be cleared so you do not get burnt out on the work you have to do.

Find Time to Breathe.
I just mentioned that you will find time for things you need to get done and another thing you need to make time for is yourself. It could be five minutes or it could be an hour. Just give yourself some time to recharge. One of my favorite things to do is meditate. It allows me to not think or worry about anything for whatever time I scheduled and then I feel refreshed and ready to begin my work again. You have to take some time to clear your mind or get your emotions in check. This is your life and, as busy as you may be, you need to look around and enjoy it.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, “if the thing is not due tomorrow, go to sleep. Your problems and work are not going to be fixed by tomorrow so why don’t you go to sleep? In the morning you can go right back to work and worrying about everything but for now, you need sleep.” When you sleep, your whole body is recharging and it needs sleep to function correctly. There has been times where I have been so tired but I wanted to finish this assignment so I stay up for a long time and completed it but it is turns out to not be good and the next day I have to redo it anyway. If you redo it while still not getting any sleep, the quality level of it will not increase. Go to sleep and allow your body to recharge and prepare for the task you are about to take on. I promise you that doing so will also increase the quality of work you produce.

            You’re always going to have stress. That is something you will never be able to change. How you react to stress can be changed and it may even improve your quality of life. You have to find things that work for you, and hopefully some of these things that work for me will help you. It is all about trial and error when it comes to finding what works for you, but one thing you cannot do is allow the stress you feel to control your life.