Photo courtesy of Sara. Nel.The semester has barely started and I am already starting to really feel the pressure of this school year weighing down on me. I’m a senior, which means in about nine months, I am going to be kicked lovingly out of the doors of my college into the beautiful harshness of reality. Needless to say, I’m scared shitless. I’m thinking about graduate school, the GRE, applications, job opportunities, what I’m going to do with, you know, the rest of my entire life. I’ve got classes and readings and papers and literature reviews and scripts to annotate. I’ve got my future basically resting on my shoulders.

Who wouldn’t be stressed out?

I’ve already been seeing how stress is affecting me, and it’s barely even September. The entirety of last week I hardly slept. I’m hungry all the time. I’m  extraordinarily cranky. I pick fights. I am not a pleasant person to be around. And even though I understand that it’s all just the stress talking, I have no idea what to do about it. I lie awake at night for several hours, thinking about all of the things I have yet to do, before falling into an uneasy night’s sleep.

Luckily, last Friday, I stumbled onto this Lifehacker article– “What Stress Actually Does to You and What You Can Do About It.” I mean, hello. Thank you God for timing. The article is actually a really great read, and helps you understand what exactly stress is and how it can affect your daily life. I’d encourage anyone who is stressed (aka everyone) to give it a quick read.

Here are some tips that I have found useful in my journey to a less stressed life.

Relax Before you Sleep

Sleeping is the main thing that stress affects for me, and it just all snowballs downhill from there. If I’m tired, I’m cranky and I don’t feel like doing anything productive, which just gets me more and more stressed. I realized that I needed to figure out a way to really relax before I got in bed so that I could get to sleep more easily and not be wound up about everything. Several things that I have tried include taking a bath or shower right before bed (being clean and warm makes me sleepy), watching a mindless, happy TV show, and reading a book. For just those few minutes, you’re taken away from the stressful situation your school work puts you in. Your mind relaxes, and so does your body, and you’re ready for bed.

Eat Healthily and Exercise

You’ll actually feel a lot better about yourself if you eat healthy meals. Your body will feel more energized and therefore be able to deal with stress better. And secondly, it will be one less thing you have to stress about. Instead of worrying about how you probably shouldn’t have eaten three pieces of pizza, you can focus your energy on what really matters

Exercising is a fantastic way to deal with your stress. You can channel your feelings of anxiety into your work out and get them out of your body. And just like eating healthy, you’ll be less worried about your body and health and more focused on your school work.

Create Goals

Part of stress is the unexpected. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing after graduation; I don’t know how I’m going to tackle my thesis; I don’t know when I’m going to have time to write that paper due in two weeks. Therefore, part of dealing with stress is to combat the unexpected.  You can’t always know, but you can be prepared. Create goals list for yourself to help you deal with what you can. If you know you want to go to grad school, figure out when to take the GRE and just focus on that for right now. If you know you need to write that paper, look at your calendar and figure out a good chunk of time when you can sit down and write it.

Making goals and to do lists is a way to organize your life into manageable blocks that you can deal with one day at a time. It’s too much to think about those huge projects all in one day. Take them in small bites, and you’ll accomplish them step by step. Your progressive accomplishments in those projects will be able to be seen, and as you continue to check things off your to do list, you’ll feel less and less stressed.

How do you deal with stress? Let us know in the comments!

[via Lifehacker]