How to Avoid Stress This Fall

Most people like fall. It is the season of comfort flavors and large sweaters. If you candy, you have your candy corn around every corner. It is acceptable to parade around in oversized sweaters and leggings. What’s not to love? It’s finally cold enough to be comforted by warm coffee.


Unfortunately, for college students, this time of the year also entitles midterms and increased stress. Three months ago I was sitting at the beach and now I am reluctant to go outside because I hate cold weather. Even though this weather makes us regret buying so much summer clothes, there are ways to overcome the cold and make the most of this time of year.

Get rid of distractions.

As college students, we are constantly surrounded by distractions. Whether this be completing a season on Netflix or spending one too many hours in a dining hall. These distractions are not as fun when they lead to stressing over an assignment that needs more time than you have saved for it. Because of this common problem, we should set ourselves up for success by alotting time to complete tasks without distractions near us.  This is easier said than done.  For the most part, we work on assignments with other people around us talking or there are interesting things going on near us. If you know what triggers your attention, try to eliminate the trigger while you are allowing yourself valuable time to complete important tasks.

Lay out your tasks.

Staying organized is more important than most of us think. We may own a aesthetically pleasing planner, but that doesn’t mean we are taking advantage of it. Using highlights to indicate what kind of obligations you have for the week can be a quick way to plan effective time management. Organizing your events, tasks and thoughts are vital to optimizing your productivity and avoiding stress.

This can seem like an overwhelming task or maybe your schedule doesn’t call for color-coding or tracking errands. That’s fine. Just be sure you have a clear study space and all the materials you need to memorize what you are studying.  For some people, flashcards work the best. While for others, reading in-depth text/ watching videos will paint a clearer picture of the concept at hand. You can start by keeping notecards with you and slowly separating the concepts you have memorized from the ones you have not.  You’ll be surprised how fast the pile of correct answers piles up!

Focusing will help you achieve your tasks without causing excessive stress and anxiety.  Even if it is spending ten minutes a day on a paper due in two weeks, you will thank yourself. Staying organized will keep you on track with due dates, organizational commitments, family obligations and social events. Simply keeping your study space clean and organized will eliminate stress. Be sure to have your everyday materials at arms reach and stick to the plan you made for yourself in your planner. Which leads to my next point..

Set realistic goals

Personally, I think one of the most common setback for achieving tasks in a timely manner and avoiding stress is setting unrealistic goals. This means thinking you can write a four-page paper in an hour because you can focus and do not need as much time. Unrealistic goals can be the key to failure. Realistically, an hour to complete a four-page paper is setting aside time and keeping you organized, but it is not achievable. You need more time if you want a good grade.

So, how do we set more realistic goals or know if they will work for us? Setting goals can be different form person to person. Since you know yourself better than anyone else, be mindful to how long specific tasks take you (studying, memorizing, understanding, etc.). Once you establish how much time you need for a task, you can break it into parts and decide how early you should begin.

Sometimes doing as little as determining a topic to write about is enough to get you excited about writing a paper! Start slowly by choosing a topic, reading into the project’s description, or looking into applicable sources. This can give you a broad understanding of what needs to be done and what resources will help you. Allowing yourself time to choose a topic you find interesting will lessen your anxiety to work on it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One of the awesome things about being a JMU student is having an excessive amount of resources to help you. It is your job to take advantage of these opportunities.  With this being said, if you don’t ask for something you will never get it. Acknowledging the resources available to you will help you stay accountable for your part of the deal. Instead of guessing what you need to get done, visit the Student Success Center and speak with a representative of the department most helpful to you.

If the stress has already hit, stop by the meditation room in the Counseling Center. If you prefer drawing or coloring, head to the coloring section in the Counseling Center. These are both reliable means of lessening stress and getting you back on track.

Find support with peers

College is a huge opportunity to find the friends that support you.  Be sure you surround yourself with people who encourage your efforts and applaud your success. These people should also be there for you when you need guidance or acceptance. Your peers are probably facing similar stress, so why not talk about it? Use your friends and peers to hold each other accountable and for encouragement.  Some of your peers may live far away, miss their family, have something going on or are experiencing anxiety and are not sure how to cope. Whatever the case may be, it is important to be there for your friends as they are for you.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

Lastly, acknowledge you accomplishments and know what works for you. If you g
ive yourself a positive incentive to get a task done, you will most likely complete it in less time. It might be completing a big task and rewarding yourself throughout the slow, but sure process. This will keep you motivated and eager to tackle the next task.

Take advantage of the sweater weather and head treat yourself to Sunday Brunch for getting an A. Since you studied a little everyday this week for an exam next week, you better enjoy a couple hours at Crosskeys. Or even enjoy a simple walk on campus with a warm drink, because you’re working hard and you deserve it.

Peace, love & DDP,



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