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Five ways to stop school from controlling your wellbeing

By Shannon Hogan, 2nd-year History/French student

It’s almost halfway through the semester (yikes!), and you still have a pile of readings, at least another 15 hours of class this week, and countless reports and midterms to write in the next 7 weeks…and that’s all before going to your club meetings, working, maintaining your social life, and fulfilling basic biological needs. Cha Gheill, am I right?!

It’s okay to feel like you can’t handle it all. Almost every undergraduate student has had a moment (or twelve) where they feel like their academic workload is impossible, but you CAN get through it––and very successfully, too.

Here are some strategies to get you started, organized by common stressors:

  1. If you need focus, eliminate distractions: Try sitting close to the front of lectures and keeping your tech OFF and AWAY whenever you’re studying…you can Snap back after class! If you absolutely need to work on your laptop, install an app like SelfControl (for Mac) or SelfRestraint (for PC) that will block you from certain websites (*coughs* FACEBOOK) for a designated amount of time.
  2. If you feel like you have no time, plan ahead: Realistically map out the rest of the semester using the term-end calendar. This tool will give you an at-a-glance view of your remaining work and allow you to designate times to get it done in your more immediate calendar (i.e. daily or weekly).
  3. If you have an end-heavy semester, make use of your reading week: Use a 9-5 workday to plough through readings, and designate any time you would normally be in class to writing assignments.
  4. If you need motivation, find it externally: Start a study group(…chat) with motivated students in your courses. Clarify course content and assignments, prep for midterms together, and share missing lecture notes.
  5. If the cons are outweighing the pros, keep your eyes on the prize: Think about how your studies will help you reach your short- and long-term goals to remind yourself that your hard work is WORTH IT.

If the thought of changing your current habits is daunting, incorporate new tactics slowly, adding smaller ones over the course of a couple lectures and bigger ones over the course of a few weeks. If that doesn’t work for you, buddy up with another student who also wants to improve their habits so that you’re accountable to one another.

If all else fails, remember to take things day by day and talk your stress out (thanks in advance for listening, Mom) to keep things in perspective. School can get the best of all of us sometimes, but you WILL get through it!

For more information on time management, motivation, and stress control, visit our online resources.

Hard drive photo courtesy of Dennis Wong under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.