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4 Ways to Manage Workload and Stress in College and Beyond

College is a notoriously stressful time. You’re paying a lot of money to take intensive courses that require you to do most of the research all on your own, so it’s no doubt that college students often suffer insane levels of stress. Fortunately, with the right approach, you’ll be able to get all of your studying done, ace your exams, and still find time to hang out with friends, all without losing your sanity.

Follow these four practical tips to help you manage your workload and your stress more effectively through your college career.

#1 Take Care of Yourself

Not taking care of yourself is often seen as a Catch 22 when it comes to stress and productivity. If you are stressed out and have a lot to get done, self-care tends to be one of the first areas where we start to slip. We might start sleeping less, eating junk food instead of cooking healthy food, and our exercise routine might go out the window as we buckle down and try to get more done.

Unfortunately, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s going to prove further detrimental. Not getting enough sleep will slow down your mental state, make it more difficult to learn, and will make it harder to remember things. All of that’s terrible for studying and exams. What’s more, not eating healthy can have a similar impact, lowering your energy levels and making you even more tired, both mentally and physically. This contributes to exercising less, which can make you even sleepier and, overall, lead to low self-confidence and other psychological issues.

So, without a doubt, one of the best things you can do throughout your college career is to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and make time to exercise. These may seem like a less than optimal way to spend your time, especially on days where you have a lot to get done, but taking care of yourself is something that counts both now and in the long run, so don’t overlook it.

#2 Build a Strong Support System

It could be a study buddy you meet with at the library or on a Zoom call once a week, or it could be your group of friends you spend time gaming with every once in a while. Regardless of what your support system looks like, it’s crucial that you maintain it.

While on the topic of your health and long-term happiness, too many college students suffer from anxiety, depression, and overwork. Not having a support system is a major contributor to all of these things, so it’s important that you build one up and put in the effort to sustain it. Carrying out your college career in complete isolation will not prove fulfilling or effective, so make sure you reach out to those who express interest in being friends and keep up with those who you used to know.

Having a support system in college is even harder if you’ve moved far away from family and friends. If that’s the case, make an effort to call them and text them regularly so you feel connected, even if you’re far apart.

#3 Get Organized

If you’ve got your personal life in order, getting organized is the best big step that will help you be more efficient throughout every day. Get a day planner so that you can start using your time more wisely, and make sure you actually check it throughout the day and follow what you have planned.

Far too often, we end up losing hours on frivolous activities, like browsing social media. With a day planner and a realistic schedule, you’ll be able to make time for the things you enjoy while being more efficient doing the things you need to do, ultimately boosting your productivity and defeating procrastination.

#4 Give Yourself a Mental Break

Whether it’s a long study session or just an average day, setting aside time for mental breaks is essential to your success. If you fail to factor in “break time,” you’ll end up spending even more time away from work through procrastination. You’ll also find you’re less efficient when you are working.

A mental break doesn’t have to be something complex or time-consuming. Try playing a word game to take your mind and eyes off the work in front of you, just make sure you have a set amount of time for that before you return to what you were doing. You’ll find that designating a few minutes away from work makes you far more productive than randomly taking breaks when you feel like it or dragging on with no breaks at all (but lots of procrastination).