Finals are over (and college applications are done for the seniors in high school!) and hopefully everyone is enjoying time at home, relaxing. But the stress of classes starting again, bringing with them more homework, quizzes, and exams can bring a fair amount of stress along with them, too. I've spent my winter break making (many) different excel spreadsheets and lists and starting to study for the MCAT; if I'm being honest, it's been pretty stressful! So to help get through the spring semester of tests, projects, exams, and maybe some college decisions (!), I've compiled a list of 5 things I do to try to reduce my stress:
1. Eat healthy and drink enough water
It seems obvious, but making sure you're eating well and drinking enough water during busy days is super important and one of the first things I forget to do. When you're stressed and running short on time, it seems way more easy to just eat crackers for dinner instead of taking the time to cook, but you're not going to feel so great later when you're trying to digest a quarter pound of flavor-blasted Goldfish. Trust me on this one. And drink water!! I know you're tired and want to just drink coffee or super sugary caffeinated drinks, but again, that's not going to make you feel good later. The key to feeling good is to just take care of yourself! But also if you're really feeling stressed you should definitely eat chocolate-- that's never a bad idea.
If you have an exam the next day, don't stay up until 3 am studying; you'll do more good to go to sleep and let your brain organize all the information you just went over. If you feel like you have to stay up late the night before exams because you don't know the information, I would suggest getting organized a few weeks before a test and writing out everything you want to get done, aka make a to-do list!
3. Make to-do lists
I LOVE making lists. I love making lists more than is socially acceptable. If there's a day when it feels like you have a million things to get done, make a to-do list! If you're having a crazy finals week, make a countdown list of everything you have due on each day, and watch as each task gets crossed off over time. Lists help you get organized, help you stay on track, and give you the satisfaction of seeing everything crossed off at the end of the day. Seriously, lists are the best thing since sliced bread/ probably better than sliced bread.
4. Be realistic, but stay positive
BUT don't pile a weeks worth of work into one day--then it becomes impossible to complete everything and you just end up feeling overwhelmed and disappointed at the end of it. Put a reasonable amount of work on your to-do list each day, ensuring that you can finish it all. Even if you don't get everything done that you wanted to, stay positive and don't be too hard on yourself. If you start thinking negatively, you'll just make it harder to stay focused and get work done.
5. Take a break
Go on a run, have a snack, hang out with friends, watch TV, just don't do work for a little bit! Taking short breaks actually helps you get more done in the long term because you have some time to let you brain rest.
Good luck spring semester!