Top Tips for Overcoming Stress

Balancing life, work, and school isn’t an easy journey…and yet, here you are, making it happen! You’re a whole person, complete with a variety of emotions, thoughts, and dreams. As you pursue your education, you may feel stressed and overwhelmed at times — and that’s okay! Sometimes you might find that you’re not able to focus and learn as you’d like. While a little stress is bound to occur, too much can start to affect your life, including school.

Stress is connected to your memory and focus, and can interfere with your learning process.  While you may push through and keep moving forward, this can become a vicious cycle and lead to burnout. The following tips can help you improve how you manage stress for greater focus, productivity, and retention.

Block short, consistent chunks of time. Sit down for 15 minutes each day to do schoolwork. The idea is to satisfy your desire to make progress in school while being able to fit it into your busy schedule.

Exercise for 5–15 minutes. Complete 15 minutes of aerobic exercise prior to sitting down to read/study. Exercising before may help you complete memory tasks faster and relieve stress. The key is to sit down right after to read the next lesson or take an exam, using the momentum — and the endorphins — to help you focus.

Practice purposeful relaxation. Physical activity not for you? Tense your muscles from head to toe, and then release all that tension! Whether you stand or sit while you do this, remember that you must clench as hard as you can before thinking about school, so that as you relax your muscles, you start associating that relaxation with school.

Laugh about it. Look up a funny video or scroll through one of your favorite humorous social media accounts. Laughing for 5 minutes can help release any tension you’re holding. Enjoy — and don’t forget to share the funnies! You never know who might also need a smile.

Take a hot shower or a warm bath. The temperature of the water can help boost your mood. Time for the bubbles!

Say no to distractions. Constant connection can compromise your ability to concentrate. Choose to unplug for improved focus. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room. Grab a pair of noise-canceling headphones while you’re at it. You may only have a little bit of time to get your work done today — distractions can cost you that valuable time.

Chew it over. Chewing gum may help you concentrate for longer.

Smell the flowers. Specifically, rosemary! Whether it’s an essential oil or a potted plant on your desk, smelling this plant may improve your performance.

Set a timer. Choose your study time wisely. Don’t force yourself to be a hero in the morning when you know you’re a night owl. Limit your school time to shorter periods of time and walk away once the timer goes off. (Psst…this blog post can help you determine your ideal study style!)

Be honest. We believe we can multitask, but the truth is, most of our brains aren’t made to function this way. Choose music with no lyrics, and try a shorter to-do list: 1. Open laptop. 2. Read for 15 minutes. 3. Close laptop. End scene. 

Remember, more hours spent working doesn’t necessarily mean more work gets accomplished. When studying, quality over quantity can lead to improved memory! What can you try next time you sit down to absorb information?  

Work in intervals. Read for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break, and then repeat. After one hour of reading, take longer breaks! (Read more about increasing your productivity with a tomato timer.)

Synchronize. Study, sleep, study — by including sleep in between big study sessions, you’re increasing your retention.

Feed your body. Hydration helps improve overall mental processing and learning, so avoid dehydration! Also, snacks like blueberries may help, too. 

Keep the honeymoon phase. You know yourself best, and predicting when you start to lose interest may help you get back on track. Set yourself up for success.

Offer a reward. Providing yourself with a reward at the end of your study session/exam may also improve your memory function. A bigger reward may yield bigger memory function. Your hard work can start to pay off.

Be old-fashioned. Individuals who write things down in their own words are more inclined to have better memory retention than other forms of note-taking.

Give it a nickname. Finding an acronym for the information you have to remember may help with memory. For example, Raging Martians Invaded Venus Using X-Ray Guns tells you the order of the electromagnetic spectrum. The weirder, the better!

Use your voice. Read out loud instead of silently.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to notice is where your attention goes. Maybe it’s trying to tell you something!

Coaching can lead to improved wellness and resilience while in school. Schedule time to speak with your Student Success Coach — they can help you explore your potential. Want to know more? See a firsthand account of what it’s like to have a coach by your side during your education journey.

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Written by Maria Sanchez
Student Success Coach
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  • Juanita Velazquez says:

    Hola! Si habla español me gustaría que me motivaras a seguir con mis estudios! Se me esta haciendo bien difícil y no me quiero retirar! Muchas gracias! Cuento con su apoyo!

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