Don’t let the stress get to you!

With much relief and a great feeling of achievement, I’m happy to say I have made it through the first semester of graduate school. Going to graduate school full-time, working as a graduate assistant, and working a part-time job keeps me busy. Needless to say, time and stress management skills are everything.

When I started college, I didn’t understand the value of managing my time until the end of my first semester. I’ll always remember my first finals week in December 2008. I was stressed even though I had been fully aware of my final exam dates since the beginning of the semester. However, the reality didn’t fully hit me until the first week in December as I was finishing final projects and studying for final exams.

Sure enough, chaos ensued. Thanks to the lack of sleep, energy drinks, and motivating pep talks from friends, I survived my first college finals week. During the holiday break, I vowed I would never put myself though another finals week like that. Semester by semester, I developed better time and stress management skills. During the last semester of my Bachelor’s degree, I experienced much less stress than my first semester.

My planner (full of due dates, deadlines, group project contact info, and work schedules) which I always keep close by and would be lost without it!

Because many students feel stressed during finals, I want to share some of my time and stress management tips with you!

  • Write important dates in your planner. Write the due dates for major projects and midterm/final exam dates in your planner at the beginning of the semester. Most professors outline the major due dates and deadlines in the course syllabus. Having the important dates listed in your planner at the beginning of the semester will save you time later when you’re frantically searching for a syllabus to find out the deadline for a final project.
  • Take breaks. Frequent breaks can help release some tension and clear your mind. For every hour you study, take a 10-15 minute break. Talk with your roommate, go for a walk, get a grande Starbucks caramel macchiato, listen to music—anything that helps you relax. Try to have some fun during your breaks too!
  • Find a good study spot. Some students can study in their room and complete assignments easily. However, other students find it difficult to work in their room, especially in a dorm hall. Find a spot on campus that works best for you. Of course, there’s the library and Lima Lab, but there are some other less well-known spots. I personally like the Touhey Forum in Lally because of its size and the large tables allow you to lay out all your books and notes. There’s also small study area on the third floor of St. Joe’s with a couch, chairs, and a computer. I suggest this location if you’re reviewing notes before an exam.
  • Keep hydrated and eat healthy foods. Many people overlook this tip, but it really does help. Believe me, you don’t want to have a cold or strep throat when you’re trying to study. Stress can weaken the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illness.
  • Set goals and reward yourself. I found this technique to be very effective. For example, I would set a goal of writing 3 pages of my final paper. If I accomplished this in a certain time frame, I rewarded myself with watching an episode of my favorite TV show. If you have something to look forward to, you may find yourself working harder to get that reward.

What about you? How do you manage stress? What are your tips for time management?

As always, if you want to share your thoughts, questions, or need some advice, please comment below!

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