Lately, I’ve been absolutely consumed by stress. I’ve let myself become aggravated and negative. I’ve elevated the importance of “what I need to do today” to a level that’s become deadly. My planner has become my anxious obsession. Life is feeling like too much.
It seems funny that I’m writing a post on handling stress, since I’ll be the first to say I’m not the best at it. What you just read was taken straight from a journal entry from last week. Being a college student, this time in late April (the end of the semester) is frantic. It honestly feels like I'm drowning.
I’ve come to accept that busyness is something that isn’t going to go away. It’s not just a late-April-college-student thing. No matter what stage of life you’re in, there will always be obligations and things you desire to pour time and commitment into.
That said, there are certain seasons and weeks and even random days that will suddenly explode with busyness. However, the way you conduct yourself and handle it is the determining factor in how much mental and emotional stress you will experience.
Here are five tips I’ve found that help me get through those times in the healthiest, best ways possible.
1. Determine what you absolutely must get done each day. A typical to-do list for me is an extensive mess of assignments, meetings, things I want to clean, and random things like “vacuum” or “pluck your eyebrows.” In times of stress, narrow it down to only the things that seriously need to get done in that day. Small, insignificant tasks can wait for later. You might be surprised by how much this clears your head and sharpens your focus.
2. Just do it. One of my favorite bloggers, Brittney Moses, has a post about this topic. In it she states, “We sit back and obsess so much over the amount of energy, time and process the task is about to take that we mentally exhaust ourselves before ever doing anything. This is the quickest way to kill all potentially great effort.”
How greatly I can resonate with that! If I added up all the time I’ve spent planning for, worrying about, complaining about, and dreading the work ahead of me, it would be sickening—especially since time is one of my main concerns when I’m stressed! So just start. Do it. You can get a lot done in even ten minutes when you simply do the task the entire time.
3. Soak up and dwell on truth. Directing your focus to solid, Biblical truths will transform your attitude on stressful days. It gives perspective that is all too easily lost in our daily tasks and anxieties. In prayer, intentionally hand over everything to God. He is the Lord over the flood of it all.
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
4. Know when to say “no,” and when saying “yes” will be good for you. This goes both ways. Adding commitments to an already-full schedule isn’t good for anyone involved. If you’re pouring yourself into too many things, you won’t be able to contribute well to any of them. You have the responsibility and the right to say no when you should.
On the other hand, just because something will take your time doesn’t mean it should be avoided—even on stressful days. Things like going to supper with friends, working out, or calling someone who needs encouragement are valuable. These things take time and commitment, yes, but they feed the soul.
5. Prevent mindless social media consumption by moving your apps. Last week I noticed that even in the middle of horrendously busy days, I was finding time to robotically scroll through Instagram and Facebook. Hmm. That doesn’t make sense.
I didn’t want to delete the apps because I like to keep up with peoples’ lives, so I simply moved them to a folder in a new, harder-to-get-to place on my phone. That way, my habit-driven little thumbs can’t hop onto Instagram whenever I have 4 spare seconds. I now have to think about the decision to use it before I do. It’s actually embarrassing how effective this was.
So there ya have it- 5 tips for handling busy and stressful times! Don’t let busyness hinder you from living in the fullness of joy and peace available to us through Jesus. Have a great week!
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!