Keep up the motivation, but push down the stress

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Motivation can be easy to lose. College students live busy lives, with a great deal of potential for stress. The milieu of obstacles laid out can begin to seem insurmountable, one problem laid on top of another until they loom overhead. Distractions look all the more palatable as the way forward only becomes less clear. Suddenly it seems like there is no way forward.

What happens next is usually a mad scramble to meet deadlines, make up missed work and generally regain some amount of normalcy. All-nighters are pulled, large amounts of coffee are consumed and general panic is had. Eventually the dust settles and, hopefully, the problems have been dealt with, or at least the load is a little lighter.

Avoiding this maelstrom of emotion, stress, sleeplessness, stress eating and general unpleasantness is a matter of time management, enduring it is a matter of stress management. Unfortunately, it’s a problem that feeds back into itself like an ouroboros of panic. Trudging through finishing a 15 page research essay will never, ever win if it’s put up against anything more entertaining than drying paint.

On the other side of the coin, it’s entirely possible to be overworked. Spending every waking hour working and stressing builds pressure over time, and eventually the foundation will give way and all that hard work will crumble.

To be successful, students must learn to balance work and leisure. Devoting all of one’s energies to work isn’t the solution, that will only build up stress and lead to the spiral all over again. Sleep, socializing and relaxing must be balanced with study and work. Without this harmony, it’s far too easy for the precarious status quo to be tumbled.

Sometimes it is unavoidable. The universe can decide to throw a curveball without warning, and the most carefully laid plans can fall apart for no apparent reason. Of course, sometimes we only have ourselves to blame, but that acknowledgement is only the first step. It can be hard to see out from the bottom, and the array of challenges begin to seem impossible to take on all at once.

They probably are, but that’s okay. Stretching resources too thin against a foe is a mistake as old as military strategy, but it also applies to individual lives as well. While trying to complete the to-do list all at once is obviously a futile effort, so is worrying about the whole road ahead. Focusing on one problem at a time, devoting all energies to each task in turn, is the key to winning back sanity and GPA.

Stress is one the most insidious enemy facing college students; it has many allies, and our fast-paced world never seems to slow down for a moment. Managing stress is a skill, and like any other skill it takes practice. Knowing how to handle the craziness of college life is a cornerstone to a successful academic career. Good planning, extracurricular activities, leisure time and hobbies can all be excellent ways to destress.

Social clubs or student ministries are an easy way to meet new people on campus, and the library is a quiet place to read and unwind for the more introverted. Events on campus and around town can offer free entertainment, and every budget should include some room for movie tickets or dinner. If the stress is ever too much, WT’s counseling services are available for students completely free of charge.

No matter the source, every student has to deal with stress. It might seem like a small thing at first, but left unchecked it will overwhelm even the strongest wills. Stress isn’t unbeatable, however, and with the right perspective and spirit any challenge can be met.

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