As we enter the Spring season, it’s the final stretch of the race for students. Regardless if you’re a freshman, senior, or somewhere in between, these last few months are important building blocks for the future…at least under normal circumstances.
The COVID-19 virus has been the cause of countless canceled plans, shuttered schools, and postponed events. Most students who are still taking lessons are attending virtually, rather than in person.
You and your fellow students are adjusting to a new normal. There’s a lot going on, and it’s understandable if you feel anxious and stressed out about the future. We’ve pulled together the following three tips to help walk you through healthy methods of dealing with your stress during a time of uncertainty.
#1. Talk about it
If you’re feeling worried and unsure about the future, your current plans, or your school workload, you’re not alone. There are millions of students experiencing the same frustrations and uncertainty. There are also many adults who are dealing with similar concerns and who must make difficult decisions for themselves and their families.
It can be easy to feel disconnected and distant as much of the nation is practicing social distancing. It’s more important than ever to talk through what you feel. Even if you’re unable to meet someone face-to-face, try reaching out by email, phone, or Skype.
Also, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there is no shame in asking for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted adult, a teacher, or a close friend. By talking through your fears with someone, it might help put the situation in perspective, and it can also help you brainstorm solutions.
Verbally communicating your fears and anything you are struggling with can help alleviate stress and is a healthy habit to learn. The more you bottle up your emotions, the more isolated you can feel. Admitting that you need help can be scary, but once you reach out it’s a source of comfort to know that you’re not walking through something alone.
#2. Make Time for Yourself
There’s nothing wrong with devoting time to studying and completing your schoolwork; in fact, it’s encouraged. But it’s equally important to make time for yourself and for the hobbies that you love.
These should be activities that have nothing to do with school. It could be reading a book, exercising, watching TV, or even just taking a nap. Whatever the activity, you can greatly reduce stress when you give yourself time to rest and just have fun. Focus all your time and effort on studying, learning, and working, especially amidst all this turmoil, can lead you to feel burned out. This could ultimately affect your mental health in a negative way long term.
You might be thinking that you just don’t have time for fun. You have a busy life, many responsibilities, and the list just seems to keep getting longer. That’s a fair point…but it’s also a great argument for why you need to take a break from time to time.
To ensure that you take time every day to close the schoolbooks and put down the pen, try marking it down in your agenda or to-do list for the day. Be as intentional as you can about scheduling a time to relax and take your mind off your studies. You won’t regret it.
#3. Set Small Goals
You may often find yourself fully stressed out as you look ahead at a weeks’ worth of assignments, or at the upcoming month of major life changes. Here’s a simple tip: try to think smaller.
It can be daunting and overwhelming to only see the big picture of seemingly-impossible tasks. Instead, try taking it one step at a time. Think of it like a magnifier, focusing on one object at a time.
In school, for example, try focusing on the assignments that are due tomorrow, or on finishing the current paper you’re writing, instead of thinking about planning out the entire year. Take each day one at a time, and try not to stress about things that are months away or outside of your control. You’re less likely to become stressed when you break up your responsibilities into easily-digestible bites.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the future. But it’s important to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you can’t complete everything at once. If you prioritize the immediate tasks or assignments, and give your full attention to those activities first, you’re more likely to produce better work.
By setting realistic, doable goals for yourself now, you can help alleviate further stress down the road.
Don’t Forget to Go Easy on Yourself
As we already discussed, there’s a lot on your plate. It’s a challenging time for all students, trying to manage schoolwork and balance hectic schedules. That being said, try not to be too hard on yourself. While school and preparing for college are both important, they are not more important than your mental health and wellbeing.
There will be many things in life, like this virus, over which you don’t have control. The best thing you can do is just try your best and take care of what you can control. Discuss any concerns you might have with a trusted friend, take time for yourself, set small goals, and know that you can’t do it all. The rest will fall into place.