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5 Ways to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed in College

October 19, 2017

If you have been reading my blog for a little while now, you know that I am 100% upfront with the realities of feeling overwhelmed in college. I love being busy, I promise! Sometimes it’s just a lot to handle.

Work used to come in waves, but recently it’s felt like I am always doing something. Every week has a quiz, exam, or an event, and I very rarely feel like I can just relax. Don’t get me wrong! I adore being a part of things I’m passionate about, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so, but I feel like I am drowning in work sometimes.

Thankfully I have adopted a few techniques of handling this feeling of overwhelming busy-ness, and I hope they help you in conquering your hectic schedule.

1. Make a list. Or five.

For some reason, list-making is my go-to stress method. I utilize my bullet journal for most of my lists, or sometimes I’ll draw little check boxes on a Post-It and stick it to my laptop. There is something about getting all of my problems out of my head and down on paper that is so comforting!

I think it’s partly because I consider myself to be a visual person, and visualizing my stressors helps me to take control of them. It’s much harder to be “stressed about everything” when your list only contains 4 items, am I right?

It’s my personal little method of holding myself accountable that’s simultaneously therapeutic, and I hope it helps you too!

2. Turn up the music – create a productivity playlist!

If you read any of my favorites posts, you know that music is a huge part of my life. I think it’s cool how a song has the power to totally change your mood – and what better time to take advantage of that than when you’re stressed?

In my mind, there are two levels of stress:

  1. Stressed but functional
  2. Stressed to the point where you can’t do anything at all.

Depending on my current level of stress, I put on a playlist that will help to change my mood in a positive way. In functional stress, I put music on that will make me feel relaxed. On the other hand, when I’m dysfunctionally stressed, I put on power-through-work music that will help me feel productive again.

Below is my playlist for the latter (it contains a LOT of Harry Styles and The 1975 – sue me!)

3. Tackle the biggest issues.

Once I’ve made a game plan and put on some motivating music on, I like to tackle the most stress-inducing problems first. Whether the issue is with the blog, schoolwork, or extracurricular things, I prioritize the things with the largest priority or impact. This might seem counter-productive, but I’ve found that it’s actually super efficient.

In reality, you aren’t piling on more stress – instead you’re whittling away at the problem! Additionally, I love the idea of being productive, and feeling like I’ve moved one step closer to my goal is just enough to brighten my mood.

4. Work out!

Okay, okay, so I personally don’t work out all the time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it! Sometimes a good 30-min elliptical sesh or pushing through a lift routine is the best thing for a messy mind. When I feel overwhelmed and unmotivated, I pull out my T25 workout tapes and do one of the videos.

Working out is great because you don’t only feel like you’re doing something good, but it’s also actually good for your body! If you’re looking for fitspo, Caitlyn and Abigail post some great workouts on their Instagram stories and write all the time about going to the gym.

So next time you feel too stressed to work, grab your headphones & a bottle of water and head to the gym – you (and your body) will thank yourself later.

5. Still feeling overwhelmed? Take a break. Seriously.

In the end though, if none of these things work, it’s 100% okay to take a break.

It might feel like taking a break is literally the opposite of what you need, but think about it for a second. How productive can you really be if your mind is in a million places at once? Not nearly as productive as you would feel with a clear head.

Therefore, if you feel like you’re drowning, cut yourself some slack! Put on a face mask, watch some YouTube videos, or journal for a little bit. Come back to your issues with a clear head, and things might just feel a little bit more manageable.

Final Thoughts

These five little tips have really been my saving grace throughout this semester. They might seem small, but applying them every day has done wonders for my sanity. Feeling overwhelmed in college is inevitable, sure, but that doesn’t mean it has to take over your entire life!

Have you felt overwhelmed this semester? How did you deal with it?

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  • Maya

    I love making lists when I’m overwhelmed! It’s so helpful.
    -Maya
    http://www.mayafleming.com

  • Love this list! When I get truly overwhelmed I like to lie down on my bed, cover my eyes with a sleeping mask, and listen to a podcast for an hour. It’s a bit weird, but it helps me. I sit on the computer an awful lot as a blogger/freelancer so most of the time when I am overwhelmed I just need to log off the computer for a bit.