We have just passed the midpoint of the fall semester. Midterm exams are over, but your academic workload is still heavy. The holidays are on the horizon and all their associated obligations. You may still be seeking a job or internship. Stress is starting to take its toll on you.
It is a fact that major life changes can result in stress–growing up, work/career change, marriage, birth, mid-life, death… Changes are simply an integral and unavoidable part of life that everyone experiences. It is how you deal with them that determine your stress level. As a college student, you are particularly vulnerable to stress because your life is in a state of flux.
- You may be on your own for the first time.
- You may be managing your own budget.
- You are making decisions that will begin to chart a course for your career.
- You may be seeking a job or internship.
- You are striving to do well in your classes.
- You may be dealing with social issues and relationships.
- You are juggling numerous opportunities and priorities and having to manage your schedule.
Stress can cause a whole host of physical issues–headaches, nausea, stiff neck, fatigue or sleeplessness… Over time, these little things can add up and take a toll on the body leading to more serious issues. As such, there is no time like the present to learn to deal with stress. Knowing how to cope is a skill that will serve you well through the challenging periods that you are sure to experience throughout life.
So what can you do? You need to learn to R.E.S.T.
Everyone–regardless of how young and fit–needs to take time out to recharge. It is also important to note that not everyone will recharge the same way. Some need time alone. Some need time with others. Some need more sleep, and some might actually need less.
While sleep is essential, it is not necessarily recharging. It is possible to run all day, fall into bed, sleep all night–repeat. That does not always alleviate stress. In fact, it may begin to feel as if you are trapped in a sleep/work pattern. There is no recharge time in this.
Your mind needs a bit of playtime. Even if you are getting adequate sleep, you need to learn to take mental breaks and find something entertaining to do. See a movie. Play video games. Read a book. Go out with friends. Work on a hobby. Find and do whatever it is that brings enjoyment, relaxation, and gets your mind off your stressors for a time. But, remember, you cannot reside in playtime forever. You need to re-energize so that you can move forward.
When we are stressed, we can become lethargic and start to lose interest in what we are doing. We might even find ourselves dealing with a bit of depression (at which point it is advisable to see a mental health counselor or medical professional).
It is important to get mentally and physically energized. Getting physically energized means exercise. We should be getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. We know that lack of exercise can lead to obesity and health problems. In fact, a recent study suggests that inactivity can even elevate cancer risk.
We also need to get ourselves mentally energized around what we are doing in our lives–schoolwork, job search… Some people find it helpful to make lists.
It is difficult to get energized about or even prioritize tasks if we just allow them to float around in our head. Having only a vague notion of what we have on our plate adds to uncertainty and stress. So, get a notepad or use your computer, mobile, tablet, or whatever means to specify those things that must be done. Keep this list current. Cross off what has been done so that you may see what is outstanding. Also, add items to the list as soon as they arise. Maintaining a list helps us see our progress, gives us a sense of achievement and helps us get mentally focused and energized about what needs to be done.
Former New England Patriots owner, Victor Kiam, once said that “Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” Thus, when you finally get recharged, energized, and have specified what it is that you need to do, don’t put it off! Otherwise your “to-do” list will become overwhelming.
Make an accomplishment plan. Define what 1) is most important 2) is due first and 3) is long-term and will require effort over a period of time. Put these things on your calendar. Make certain that you stay on track, tackle your obligations, and make sure that you occasionally allow yourself to R.E.S.T.
As Assistant Director of Recruiting within the Wake Forest Schools of Business Employer Relations team, Lisa’s passion is connecting employers with student talent and creating a positive experience for both. She manages all aspects of recruiting, retention, and systems for the graduate business school. Her strengths include relationship management, networking, social media engagement, information aggregation, process facilitation and communication. Lisa has been employed at Wake Forest since the fall of 2002. She has over 20 years of work experience in various roles. Prior to arriving at Wake Forest, she was an entrepreneur, venturing into web-based international sales and marketing of salvage automotive parts and accessories. Before that, she was a trust officer in the Employee Benefit Trust area of Wachovia Bank. Lisa is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Lisa earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Rollins College and a Masters in Liberal Arts from Wake Forest. Visit Lisa’s blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.