When Stressed: Don’t Procrastinate, Take a Break

We all feel overwhelmed at times — whether it be from classwork, jobs, relationships, group membership responsibilities, or a combination of all of them.  Feeling stressed is unpleasant and, if you are like me, you do not function at your best when you feel this way.

When I feel like there is too much on my plate, often I just want to escape and watch TV or find some other distraction.  Though these activities provide some temporary relief, procrastinating typically only makes me feel worse.  I end up more stressed and also feeling a bit guilty.

When you feel at your tipping point with responsibilities and stress, passive procrastination does n0t usually help.  (Believe me, I have tons of experience.)  What can help, however, is taking a break by focusing on purposeful relaxation, reflection and re-prioritizing.

Take a break

Some of my favorite ways to relax are through yoga or a full body massage.  Of course, these are not always available, so an easy way to relax is to practice deep breathing.  This is much more helpful than you might imagine.

When feeling overwhelmed, find a place where you can be alone, even if all that is available is a bathroom stall.  Preferably, find a place that is quiet.  You may want to listen to relaxing music (Sarah McLachlan is my favorite).  Take some time just getting into a relaxed state through deep breathing and feeling your body become less tense.  Spending this time on yourself will help you focus on what should be most important in your life — your health and well-being.

Prioritize your life

Once you are relaxed, you can begin to think about how you might want to restructure your life for success.  Perhaps you just need better time management skills.  Spend this time deciding what is most important in your life and, if necessary, think about cutting out things that are less important.  Perhaps you are spending too much energy on unhealthy friendships or relationships.  Maybe you are just over-stretched with responsibilities.

Take this time to figure out how you might be able to rearrange your life to be less stressed and more successful in what is most important to you.  Take notes, if necessary. Remember that your well-being and success in school are your biggest priorities while you are a student.  If those are taken care of, you will have more energy for your social life, jobs and internships, and working on your personal brand.


Once you have established some ways you can restructure your life for success, begin implementing your plan.  If you find that you are procrastinating again to avoid stress, just remind yourself of your priorities.  We all fall back into old habits easily, so do not be too hard on yourself.

If this process does not end up feeling productive and you continue to be stressed, you may want to seek some assistance at your school’s counseling center.  These professionals are well equipped to help you better cope with life’s stresses and the crazy times that we all go through.

Good luck, and remember to take breaks whenever you need them.


Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development.  You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn, Twitter, or the UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).

Related posts:

  1. How to Procrastinate
  2. Stressed out? Take some time for you.
  3. A Career Counselor’s Spring Break Abroad

3 Responses to “When Stressed: Don’t Procrastinate, Take a Break”

  1. avatar Stanley Lee says:

    Thanks for your article Lori. I found the biggest source of stress would be the excessive expectations set on you (by yourself or other people). I found the relationship of motivation, stress, and performance from Daniel Pink’s findings really helps convince people that the sources that you’re talking about are not worth it:

    Have a fantastic weekend!

  2. Great post! One of my greatest weaknesses is getting stressed out and not knowing how to pull myself out without ripping my hair out. These tips are extremely helpful in helping with trying to avoid getting stressed. Taking a deep break, taking a step back and re-looking at everything is a perfect plan to help avoid getting stressed out.
    Thank you so much for the post!

  3. avatar Lori Bielek says:

    Thanks so much for your comments. I would love to hear from others about what helps them when they are stressed out.

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