Getting through University can be quite stressful. With exams, papers, presentations, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And with back-to-school season in full swing, I thought it would be the perfect time to write about how to get through University (relatively) stress-free!
In my good old Uni days, I remember always struggling through the first week of classes. I was completely overwhelmed looking at the upcoming assignments and tests, and I worried how the heck I would get through it all. As the semester progressed, there were plenty of days that this worry turned into a hot mess of tears (I’m actually surprised that my textbooks didn’t turn into a teared-stained mess).
Yet through it all, I managed to come through and received the golden degree at the end of it. As each year went on, I learned some key strategies to manage how to get through each semester (while staying on top of my stress).
Read on to learn my top tips to stress less in University
MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY
In University, your time is GOLD!. If you don’t take care of your time and manage it wisely, you may find yourself becoming quickly overwhelmed. Keep on top of your commitments, and schedule in your to-do lists. Whether it be electronically or via paper, it’s important for you to be aware of what you need to do for each class (and for personal commitments as well).
One of my favorite methods of time management is keeping a large calendar on my fridge with all of my assignments, projects, and exams. Each month, I would go through all of my course outlines and highlight everything that was due. Once I had an idea of my to-do-list for the semester, I would break down any major item into ‘chunks’ and schedule them throughout the week (this greatly prevented procrastination and reduced any overwhelm). Then I would write down each item on the calendar (and of course, colour-code it based on what the item was i.e. blue for exams & pink for papers). I would also try not to look too much ahead (because that would overwhelm me), but rather just focus week by week.
Although I didn’t use it too much at University (I discovered it near the end of my degree), a great productivity tool that I love is for time management Asana. It’s seriously the best at keeping to-do-lists organized in one place. You can also use it for a variety of different things besides school like tracking your personal habits and goals, creating shopping lists, stay on top of work commitments etc.
It’s far too easy to procrastinate on things we don’t want to do (I mean, I know I would much rather scroll through Instagram than write a paper). But if we continue on the procrastination train, we are just headed toward major stress. Just do what’s good for you, limit the distractions, and get to work.
However, it’s always easier to say that you will get your work done than actually deciding to do it. One of my favorite ways to boost my productivity and reduce my procrastination is the ‘20 minute rule‘. Setting the intention to do a task for 20 minutes greatly improves the chances of it getting done because I know that 20 minutes isn’t too long and will go by quickly. After the 20 minutes are up, I allow myself to go back to the tasks that I usually procrastinate with (like check my email or social media) to give my brain a little mini-break on the task at hand.
SEEK OUT SUPPORT
Whether it be through friends, family, classmates, or professors, make sure you get the help when you need it. University can be a stressful time so don’t feel like you need to get through it alone. Most Universities also provide plenty of resources for students to help them through their difficulties including counseling, financial aid, exam writing assistance etc.
If you are feeling stressed, ask yourself what you need help most with. Once you get clear on what you need help with, go out and find the support you need to tackle this area. It’s easier to stress less if you have extra support so don’t forget to seek it out!
FIND YOUR METHOD OF LEARNING
If you know your zone of genius, and method of learning then you are more likely to be successful in University. Knowing how you learn best can greatly improve your stress levels because you can use the techniques that work best for you (making the task much easier).
If you don’t know your method of learning, then experiment. If you are a visual learner, then create concept maps and charts. Or, if you are an auditory learner then try to look into audio textbooks or recording your notes to listen back to. Whatever works for you, incorporate it into your study habits so that you can get through University with more ease.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Although everyone knows that it’s important to take care of yourself, It’s so easy to forget to do while in University. However, you can’t really afford not to nourish your mind, body, and soul because a lack of self-care can quickly lead to burnout. To make the most of your self-care routine, make sure you get the appropriate amount of sleep (even if you are tempted to pull an all-nighter!), don’t forget to add exercise, stay hydrated, and eat well.
University is much less stressful if you incorporate self-care. Make your self-care practice non-negotiable and a must for you. Although, it’s easy to let this area slide, it’s actually more beneficial for you to not let it this area be forgotten. Figure out which self-care practices work best for you and make them a habit so that they are easier to stick to.
Another great tip to taking care of yourself in Uni is to set an ‘off time’ where you choose a time where you force yourself to stop doing homework. This was one of my personal favorite tips to use because it forced me to take a mental break and relax. However, this one isn’t always realistic (especially during the midterm season) so give yourself permission to break this habit once and a while (although try not to too often!).