Now is about the time in the school year when all those essays and assignments I’ve put off for so long are finally coming up due, midterms feel like a weekly occurrence, and the dreadful period of exams is quickly approaching. I find myself struggling to cope with the amount of work that I need to complete, which causes me to become overwhelmed and frustrated. Like, how am I supposed to write a paper, study for the midterm I have in 2 days, finish my chemistry lab report AND eat 3 balanced meals a day?
I remember all of my high school teacher’s warning myself and my fellow classmates about how difficult university is; but I never would have imagined it being this hard. It’s during these times I find myself questioning why I even started in university and am consumed with negative thoughts like “ugh I might as well just drop out” or “I’m sure I wouldn’t feel this way if I never pursued a post-secondary education.” As tempting as it sounds to just quit when times get tough and the feeling of constant stress consumes my everyday life, it is so important to remember why I started this journey – to pursue something I love learning about and get the skills necessary to obtain a career in it.
Over the years I have come up with many strategies to help myself stay focused and positive during times of overloaded stress.
- Making A Study Guide: I find it so useful to plan out my week ahead of time in regards to what I want to accomplish each day, and when. For example, if I dedicate an hour each day to studying for a midterm, I should be prepared for it by the time it comes. I also make sure to allow myself at least an hour where I am free to do anything that gives my mind a break from school work, so that I am able to refocus when I return with more motivation to finish what I have started.
- Being Aware of Due Dates: I like to think of due dates as those little warning signs on the side mirrors of cars that say “Warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Mainly because I have been in so many situations where I think “meh, I have soo much time to finish that assignment, I’ll just start it tomorrow” (meanwhile the due date IS tomorrow). That is why, at the beginning of each term I go through the syllabus and write down every due date for every lab, assignment, midterm etc… This helps me organize my time and prevents me from pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines.
- Scheduling Time for Family and Friends: this kind of goes hand-in-hand with making a study guide. Even if it is just an hour for coffee with a friend, or a 30 minute phone call to my grandma, I find that spending time with people that I care about puts me in the right frame of mind and gives me the motivation needed to complete my studies. It serves as an awesome break where I can go out, have fun and forget about all of the stress I’m under.
I find these small tasks can help me out so much when I’m feeling overwhelmed with school, or even just life in general. Do you have anything that you do to help you cope when things become overwhelming?