You will survive: Five ways to avoid a stress spiral


Illustration by Storm Wells Photo credit: Storm Wells

Gabriella Killett

1. Take a break.

College is a lot. From writing papers to social anxiety-provoking meetings, from looking at your DCPL every other day to triple-checking which classes you need to take next, college requires a lot of your attention. That being said, it’s only possible to offer 100% of your energy to all of these things when you are giving that same energy to yourself. Whether taking a break looks like meditating along to a YouTube video, taking a walk in Audubon Park or calling your mom, self-care is imperative in order to lead a healthy, productive life on campus.

2. Take care of your body.

Making sure you’re taking care of your body is essential to learning how to destress in college. If you are dehydrated, sleep deprived or hungry, you won’t be able to offer your body enough energy to dedicate to school or to other activities on and off campus. However, being healthy and taking care of your body looks a little different for everyone. In fact, for you, it could be gym sessions seven days a week and, for me, it could be eating a cookie. Whatever it means to you, making sure that your body is in check to live your life as a college student is important.

3. Learn how to manage your time.

Procrastination has been everyone’s best friend at one time or another. It keeps you away from doing boring assignments or away from thinking about the test you have the next day. What it doesn’t do, however, is get good grades and prepare you for the working world. College does though, and it’s important to make it your priority. With things like procrastination holding you back, surviving and getting a degree can seem less attainable. Managing your time and sticking to schedules you make for yourself will help. If schoolwork is difficult and you need a break, try working in time increments with breaks in between or getting the more difficult piece of work done and out of the way first.

4. Reward yourself.

Although taking breaks seems like a big part of rewarding yourself, it is easy to forget to do so at times and, regardless, rewarding yourself won’t always be limited to giving yourself breaks.

It is important to develop a pattern of rewarding yourself long-term in a variety of different ways. A good example of this is is that when I was little, I’d put gummy bears at the end of each paragraph on textbook pages I was reading and eat each when I read up to it. In this case, I was rewarding myself with a snack but, for you, it may be buying yourself a pair of shoes you want if you get a 3.5. GPA at the end of the semester. For some people, the “work now, play later.” mindset is a part of their college experience, but for others, personal rewards may be involve taking a longer shower than normal. Regardless, whatever rewarding yourself may be for you individually, remind yourself that you are worth it and enough with some good old-fashioned self love.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Midterms are over and you’re on your way to failing a class. You want to withdraw but you wait until the last minute and it’s impossible to take a W. Instead, you have an F for the semester. Well, you failed, and there’s nothing you can do about it. This feeling is not a good one. In fact, getting an F on a small quiz doesn’t even feel good, but as college students these things will happen. Being imperfect is a part of being human. It may seem like the end of the world at the moment, but a good way to destress in college is putting things in perspective. Think about it this way “Is this what I’ll think about on graduation day?” If the answer is no, it’s likely that you should take a deep breath and reconsider your immediate anxiety and stress that surrounds the issue. Overall, college isn’t easy for anyone, but being able to take a step back and practice composure and being calm will help put things into perspective.