Stress is a natural part of life, but how you respond to it determines how much it affects you. You may already have some strategies of your own, but here are some things to keep in mind!
Know Your Limit
Unlike high school you won’t have a set number of courses per day, this choice is up to you! Some majors may require you to hit certain credit totals each year, but most courses have multiple time slots that allow you to create your schedule as you see fit.
Try not to schedule more than you can handle at one time. Sometimes this takes a term or two to figure out, but typically most students take around 4-5 courses a term. This can change and largely depends on what you plan to do outside of academics. If you want to join clubs or do extracurriculars, you may have to scale down the academic side to keep a nice balance.
An important thing to keep in mind regarding course load is that while you do have the freedom to choose how many courses you take and when to take them, it may have implications on certain awards or future graduate/professional school requirements. Make sure to check these in advance and plan out your years accordingly.
Space Out Your Work
You’ll have a lot more work to keep track of in university and being able to properly manage time is important. Space out your assignments by order of priority, and make sure you get some work done each day. Assigning too much work for yourself everyday is a sure-fire way of burning out. It is much better to be more consistent with your habits, and complete smaller amounts over a longer period of time.
Try not to leave anything to the last minute if you’re able. Sometimes this isn’t possible given your circumstances, but assignments and exams accumulate much faster in university and is something you should be aware of.
The same idea can be applied for exams. Start studying early and do it consistently. You could even try making a revision schedule. Spaced repetition is a great way to increase recall ability and memorization.
Schedule Time to do Things You Enjoy
It’s all about that work life balance. Try out a new hobby or hone an existing one! Make sure to do something enjoyable each day even if it’s as simple as grabbing a coffee with a friend or reading another chapter of a book. Allow your mind to take some time off from all that material.
Take Time to Socialize
Humans are social creatures, and research has shown that being around people can help reduce stress levels. This can look different for everyone. Some may draw upon existing or build new social networks, others may reach out to their family or join clubs, some may even opt to volunteer as a way to connect with like-minded individuals. Regardless of how you build these networks, know that community is important for your success.
Reach out when you feel like you need it. Friends and faculty will be there to support you every step of the way. There are also many resources available for you to use such as peer support, academic coaches, and mental health consultations.
Try a Wellness Strategy
Wellness strategies can help combat stress, and there are a ton of them out there! Journaling for instance, can help express bottled up thoughts and emotions during periods of distress. Some people prefer meditation and breathing exercises to help calm them down. Try some out and see what works for you!
By far the most important one on the list. No one understands your stress response more than you. Identifying the most common stress-inducing triggers, symptoms of burnout, and feelings that arise when you’re tired allow you to plan around them a bit better and recognize when stress is accumulating to intolerable levels.
Make Sure You Have Your Basics
Sometimes, ensuring that you’re eating healthy, getting some exercise everyday, and sleeping 7-9 hours a night is all it takes. Before thinking of anything else on the list, make sure you’re taking care of your body and maintaining good habits.
Forming a study group may help boost productivity but it isn’t for everyone. Some prefer to study alone and are more efficient that way. If you enjoy the group setting, forming a study group with your friends or even people you just met in class is a great way to start arranging study sessions together and helps keep you motivated.
The best way to combat stress is to find what works for you and stick with it. A little exploration may be needed, so take the time to try out different things. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about yourself in these upcoming years!
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