By: Mia Myklebust
Stress is a normal and healthy part of life. Everyone runs into stressful situations and this will only increase as you get older. The college application process can be particularly stressful for many young adults. For many high school students this is the first time they are dealing with something that will directly impact their future, which can be daunting and overwhelming. The key is to always keep things in perspective. If the Common App website freezes or your transcript sends a day later than you planned, it’s not the end of the world. When issues arise, it’s best to try your hardest to find a solution and then let the chips fall where they may. If you always put in your best effort then the rest is up to the universe, always remember that you can’t control everything! Accepting this fact and learning to cope with and mange our stress is a critical aspect of adulthood.
Things to remember:
1. Look at the big picture
It can be easy to get caught up in the present, worrying about your homecoming date or your grade on a homework assignment. However, when you spend too much time dwelling on small problems you put an unnecessary amount of importance on things that won’t make a lasting impact on your life. A good technique to avoid this is to ask yourself, “Will this still be important to me in 5 years? Will I even remember that it happened?” These type of questions can put your life in perspective and help you step back and look at the big picture.
2. Focus on the positive
Learning to adopt a “glass half full” mentality early on is critical to your future. If you learn from a young age to see the best in every situation, you will be much happier and less stressed. No one likes a pessimist. You will only succeed in lowering the morale of yourself and those around you. Positive thinking yields positive results!
3. Learn to say no
Although you might feel like Superman or Wonder Woman, let’s be honest, you can’t save the world, (not yet at least) so don’t try to! Taking on too much is one of the easiest ways to become stressed out. When you bite off more than you can chew you can end up feeling overwhelmed and tense. It can be hard to say no, especially when a friend is asking you to do them a favor, or someone you respect is depending on you. However, if you aren’t capable of doing the job without your stress-level skyrocketing, it just isn’t worth it! You won’t be able to perform at the level you want to and could end up letting down someone important to you. Saying no isn’t just for drugs.
4. Talk your problems out
Sometimes the best way to get a handle on your stress is to talk about it. Even if you don’t come to any kind of a solution, oftentimes just getting the problem off your chest is very helpful. We’re all guilty of holding things inside at times, but if you work up the courage to talk about it, I can almost guarantee that you’ll immediately start feeling better. Humans are social creatures, we’re meant to talk about our problems. So grab your mom, dad, sibling, best friend, counselor, teacher or coach and vent away!
5. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable
Some things are just out of your control. As I mentioned earlier, this can be a difficult thing to accept. We are often told that we decide our own future, create our own destiny, write our own story; but the truth is, we only have so much control. The best strategy is to do all you can and then step back and let it alone. Releasing control is difficult, but if you can master it, you will be far happier and less stressed!
One of the many benefits of exercise is stress-relief. Working out releases endorphins in your body, which actually make you happier. In addition, exercise reduces stress and increases your energy levels making you a more productive person.
Both yoga and meditation can be excellent ways to calm your mind when you’re having an intense day. This type of self-centering allows you to refresh and de-clutter your mind. Meditation may not work for everyone, but many people who practice it are much calmer and in control of their own heads.
3. Find a creative outlet
Sketch, paint, write, dance, play music or knit! Anything that gets your creative juices flowing is great for relieving stress. The type of activity will be different for everyone, but doing something purely for enjoyment is a great way to give yourself a break from the daily grind. You will likely be using a different part of your brain, which is great for your mental health, plus you can have some fun!
4. Prioritize your to do list
A great stress management technique is to prioritize what you have to accomplish. Decide what is very important, somewhat important and what can wait until later, then start working on the tasks in that order. This can help you feel more in control of your life. When you prioritize remember to be realistic! Have a conversation with yourself and decide what you can get done in what time frame. Don’t put too much on your plate or you will end up feeling like you haven’t accomplished as much as you would have liked to.
5. Take a deep breath or take a break
Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop and take a deep breath. The world is a fast moving place, and oftentimes we forget to take a break. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, make sure you give yourself time to just sit and do nothing. Statistically, we aren’t able to be as productive if we don’t take breaks. After working 6 hours straight there is a noticeable drop off in productivity and a noticeable rise in stress. So breathe in the nose and out the mouth and kickback for a few minutes!
6. Get it done!
Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about all the things we have to get done that we don’t allow ourselves to accomplish them. Although this tip may seem obvious, every once in a while it’s good to remind yourself to just suck it up and get it done. The sooner you complete a task, the sooner you can check it off your list and decrease your stress. It is easy to become paralyzed worrying, but worrying doesn’t do anyone any good, especially you! Motivate yourself to get it done!
Good luck managing your stress this college application season! Yay, college!