Picture this. You’ve been rocking your online courses! You are confident that you’ll get straight A’s this semester…until that inevitable moment when all the major projects for your classes happen to fall in the same two weeks. You feel your blood pressure rise and start to think of all the sleep you will lose in the upcoming weeks.
This is the crucial moment.
Resist the urge to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head. Stay determined, make a plan, and carry on! To assist you, we’ve come up with some tips and tricks to manage stress and find success in your online courses.
1. Manage Your Time
One of the most effective ways to manage your stress is to manage your time. Letting an assignment loom over you for weeks only to cram it in the night before its due is a great way to boost your stress levels. Instead, map out how much time you will need to successfully complete it, and make that time in your schedule. If it is a large assignment, break it into smaller pieces, and complete it over time. If you need some help with this, reach out to your student coach in your TEL course and they can schedule a time to map out a study schedule with you.
2. Make Lists
Lists are excellent for breaking intimidating work into manageable pieces. To avoid getting overwhelmed, make a list of the big projects that need to get done, and then break those projects down into the smaller steps that make up the whole. We all know that nothing feels better than checking something off your to-do list. Having smaller tasks means you can check things off more frequently and stay motivated. Before you know it, your larger goals will be accomplished.
3. Take Study Breaks
So, you’ve made your lists and are chipping away at your goals. But, you’ve been so wrapped up in your work that you can’t remember the last time you saw the sun. Equally as important as the actual studying is to take breaks every now and then. Step away from the chocolate covered espresso bean-littered desk and take a brain break! Get some fresh air by taking a walk, shooting hoops, or riding your bike around the block. Never underestimate the magic of some vitamin D after a long study session.
While exercise obviously provides great physical benefits, it is also incredible for your mental fitness. If stress tries to take over, get active! Exercise reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances overall cognitive function. Better yet, it causes the body to release endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, and they reduce stress hormones. If you are not yet convinced, listen up, because this next point is a doozy! Exercise helps you to sleep better, which is extremely important in managing stress.
5. Develop Good Sleep Habits
You’ve put on your comfiest pajamas, and your dog is snoozing peacefully at the foot of your bed. You’ve done everything right, so why have you been wide awake staring at the ceiling for the last two hours? A lack of sleep can lead to an increase in stress. An increase in stress can lead to a lack of sleep. You see where this is going. Take the time to practice good sleep hygiene by putting routines in place that encourage better sleep and less stress.
6. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
In the spirit of making room for peaceful spaces, consider practicing mindfulness meditation. Taking a few minutes every day to focus on being present in the moment and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings can reduce stress and make you feel more in tune with your body and emotions. Learn more about mindfulness meditation and find guided meditations to help you recenter and relax.
7. Find Relaxation Techniques
So, you know you need to relax, but you’re not sure how to start. Well, there are plenty of relaxation techniques available, and they work. Some techniques include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or even yoga. Do a little research and find what works best for you. Unfortunately, stress doesn’t leave once you graduate. Learning stress management skills now will help you as you encounter stress throughout your life.
8. Think Positively
It is too easy to get wrapped up in stress and negativity and to allow those thoughts to influence your life. Don’t worry; you are not alone in this. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of a situation, try to see the silver lining. Actively looking for positives in a sea of negatives is an excellent practice in mindfulness, and although it takes time and practice, it will eventually become much easier.
9. Reach Out
That being said, everyone needs help from time to time. Whether you are overwhelmed or just need to vent, reach out to friends and family and tell them how you are feeling. If you feel that you need professional help, counselors are available to help you through any situation, and free hotlines work to connect mental health professionals with those who need their services. Bonus: If you are a university student, your campus health services may be able to provide you with a counselor at no cost.
Stress? Who Needs It?
Stress is inevitable. However, the way you handle it is up to you! While it can feel as if you have no control over stress, this is not true. Actively looking for ways to combat it and move forward is the first step in the right direction. Whether you prefer to meditate on positivity or smash out stress through a quick game of basketball with friends, finding your outlet is important as you continue on in your studies and professional life.