Tips for Battling Stress

September brings lots of excitement. For a student attending school in the South, like myself, college classes are well underway and football season is starting up. For those in schools elsewhere in the country, classes may just be beginning. Regardless, the month of September is a busy time for college students nationwide, both socially and academically.

As honor students, we have a tendency to spread ourselves thin, especially during the beginning of the semester.  It seems like we can be caught up in a whirlwind of classes, due dates, or social outings. Stress can cause students to buckle under pressure which can affect their grades and even their mental health. To help combat the stressors of beginning a new semester, I’ve put together some of my favorite tips for staying organized and motivated:

Keep a Planner

I cannot stress the importance of having a planner enough. There are students who claim they “don’t need a planner,” and you reading this may very well be one of those students. For underclassmen who are accustomed to less rigorous high school schedules, keeping a planner may seem frivolous; however, if you make a habit of writing things down in your planner as soon as you find out about them you can be less unsure about test days and due dates. I always write down all my test dates and important project deadlines in my planner on syllabus day. That way, I’m sure that I will never forget about them.

Write down how to succeed in a class

One of my favorite tips for the beginning of the semester is to sit down with all of your class syllabi and really go over the learning objectives and expectations. In the past, I will keep a short list of the steps I have to take in each class in order to make the grade I desire. For instance, if a professor emphasizes office hours in his introductory class, I will make a note of that for future reference. Writing down these goals has really helped me devise a step by step plan to keep my GPA where I want it to be.

Keep a small file folder

In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than a messy backpack! If I can’t find where a certain set of notes or a print-out is, I immediately enter into panic mode. Far too often, I see college students scrambling through loose-leaf papers in a messy binder, frantically trying to find an assignment that is due that day. Freshman year this was really a problem for me, so I bought a small filing box to keep all of my old notes in. At the beginning of each semester, I simply put a new, labeled folder into the box for each class I have. I keep my syllabi and my assignments in their designated spots that way I know exactly where they are when I need them.

Stay healthy

Though it may not directly relate to organization and stress management, staying healthy is a very important component to having a successful semester. For one, it is hard to succeed in your classes if you constantly feel under the weather. Staying physically fit and healthy is a not-so-obvious way to help you start off the semester on the right foot. For me, working out every day is a must. No matter how busy my schedule is, I always set aside about an hour to hit the gym for some “me” time. Working out, whether it be light walking or intense weight lifting, can help alleviate stress and give you a hobby to participate in. When you’re super busy and have approaching deadlines, taking the time to work out may be the last thing on your mind. However, the much-needed mental break will benefit you in the long run. Not only that, but exercise helps strengthen you physically, which makes you less susceptible to illness and more capable of putting effort towards your academics!

I hope that these simple tips helped some of you feel more confident as you move forward into this semester. The beginning of the year is stressful for all of us, but it’s extremely important to not let the stress drag you down and cause you to lag behind in your classes. Instead, start your classes feeling calm, organized, and relaxed, knowing that you have the steps for success!