The start of the semester always brings a series of stress, a series of "new".
New classes, new living situations, new friends, new clubs, new obligations...the list of things that are brand-new to your already ever-shifting life never seems to end.
You just want to find a comfortable spot and settle down, unwind for a few minutes and just breathe, but things just keep popping up at the last minute.
Want to read a book? Time to do homework instead. Want to go off-campus with friends? Time to go to yet another meeting instead. Want to binge-watch Netflix for hours on end? Time to do your laundry again, even though you swear you just did it yesterday (trust me, the stench of your inside out t-shirt says otherwise).
The first few months of the new semester just seems like one giant To-Do List.
Always somewhere to be, someone to meet with, someone to impress, somebody to email, something to do.
The checklist of things that must be done in the first few months of school never seems to find a final resting place and rest is all you want right now.
Physically, moving into college is hard. Furniture is never arranged in a pleasing manner upon the first arrival and that takes time. Getting your personal belongings situated just as you like them takes time. Decorating, especially if you have way too many decorations like me, takes eons.
Emotionally, moving into college, even after several "rounds" of the process, is extremely taxing. The stress of figuring out where to go for what class, what time to be there, how to manage new course loads after a summer of relaxation, juggling all of your extracurricular activities, and still making time with your friends to just enjoy being a college student. Throw a job and all of your other relationships into the mix and soon you find yourself scrambling to make time to eat a meal or get some sleep.
Of all of the things that you have to check off of your extensive to-do list today, make sure you check off the all-important box labeled "check yourself".
How you go about doing this differs from person to person. For some, it means just taking a step back from the laptop for fifteen minutes a day and sitting outside doing absolutely nothing. For others, it means going to get coffee with a friend between classes instead of stressing about homework.
Some days, it's just as simple as taking time to talk to a good friend.
Personally, I find talking to a friend (or my mom) to be one of the most beneficial things that I can do when I'm stressed. This group of people knows me better than just about anyone else and they can tell what I need to hear at that moment, even if I don't.
Sometimes what I need is a laugh and they'll supply a joke. Sometimes I need to hear something I won't let myself believe and they'll supply that hard-to-swallow pill. Sometimes all I need is a word of encouragement and they'll supply a "you can do this, I love you".
Admitting that you can't do it all is okay sometimes. Seeking a little help and support is okay sometimes. I have learned that you can't do everything alone, no matter how hard you try. Instead, you have to find a supportive group of people and lean on them during tough times. With groups of people like that, I now feel more capable, empowered, and productive than I ever did when I would force myself to struggle through the stress of a busy week all by myself.
For me, checking myself means taking a moment to find the source of my stress, talk it out with a friend or family member, take a deep breath, consider what they have to say, and move on. Dwelling in stress, as I have learned, is a vicious and unproductive cycle.
Figuring this out, although it has not been easy, has helped me learn to cope with a variety of stressors in my life and, as a result, lead a much more enjoyable and productive life.
So whenever you feel overwhelmed in the next couple of weeks, take a step back and check yourself. What are you doing that's harmful to your wellbeing? How can you fix it?
You just have to take that step back to make leaps and bounds forward in the future.
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