Feeling stressed, burned out or lacking motivation? Me too. It happens and I see it happen more after fall break as the deadlines for significant projects come up. The number of tasks at hand can feel overwhelming and at times impossible to do. To add to this stress, we have a number of things going on outside of school such as work, families and finances. All of this stress takes a toll on your mental and physical health. 

That’s why it is important to learn how to manage our stress and prioritize self-care. Now, this is way easier said than done. I didn’t focus on managing my stress or prioritizing self-care until my junior year. 

Around a year ago, the workload and responsibilities I had on and off campus left me feeling overwhelmed and burned out. I had hit a breaking point and was struggling to ask for help. As a result, I found myself spending less time at events on campus; I was struggling to concentrate on academic work; I was taking longer to understand what I was learning; I found myself lacking motivation to get things done. 

Now, a year later, I can say that I have learned how to manage my stress … for the most part. I still struggle and I recognize that it will be a process. I am still learning and have a lot more to learn. 

Over this year, some things I have done to help me manage my stress include taking small breaks throughout the day, spending time with family and friends, exercising, deep breathing, reaching out for help as needed and prioritizing self-care. 

I have learned to set aside time to take care of myself, whether that’s by taking a walk, going shopping, self-reflection, listening to music or getting my hair done. As I implemented these practices, I felt revitalized. I had the motivation to get my work done. I found myself being able to focus on one assignment at a time rather than worrying about it all at once. I learned that I work best when I am in a good place both physically and mentally. 

As we go into the next couple of weeks, I encourage you to take time for yourself. Explore what helps you manage your stress. Understand that this will be a process and will take time. Find what keeps you physically and mentally healthy. Take a mental health day if needed. Set a bit of time aside each day to do things you enjoy. Take things one day at a time. Practice self-compassion. And most importantly, reach out for help. 

Remember that you can do this. If you feel overwhelmed with deadlines, reach out to your professors as soon as possible. They are almost always willing to help extend those deadlines or help you as needed. 

Find a way that works for you to organize assignments and manage your time. Examples of this include using a planner and/or Google Calendar. If you find yourself needing help with time management, reach out to the Academic Success Center. For those bigger projects, set weekly goals to help you break down the workload throughout the remaining weeks. Don’t forget to take advantage of the eight free campus counseling sessions as well. 

Surround yourself with a community of people who will support you. You got this!