By Michelle Lusson
Alumna, American Public University, and Vice President of the APUS Chapter of Active Minds
The stress of being a student can be significant. The demands of your course load add to the many other responsibilities in your day, such as work, childcare and family. Consider the following suggestions to help you feel a little less overwhelmed.
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Get Organized to Overcome Student Stress
If it feels like your to-do list is getting out of control, make a list of what tasks need to be done and prioritize them. Can you eliminate any of these tasks? Can any of these tasks wait until another day? Complete the most important tasks first. If you don’t have time to do everything, at least do what is most important. Create a sense of mastery over your day by knowing that you are in charge of it, rather than letting your day take charge of you.
Try to eat right and get as much sleep as you can. These are surely not always easy to do, but they are important. Reward yourself with a little exercise; clear your head with a brief meditation session; listen to uplifting music; or take a quick break to pet your dog or cat. For encouragement and relevant information and resources, engage with Active Minds. Don’t indulge in thinking of worst-case scenarios or of what might go wrong. Think positively. Envision your success.
Consider the Evidence That You Will Succeed
As part of the academic program I completed last year, I needed to take a graduate statistics class. Not regarding myself as a “math person,” I was afraid that I was not up to the task. So I focused on the facts that I had successfully completed an undergraduate statistics class and that I would have not been accepted into my graduate program if I not demonstrated the ability to succeed in it. Think of the challenges that you have met. I’ll bet that there are more than you realize. You have overcome before, and you’ll do it again.
Ask for Help with Student Stress
You are not alone. Reach out to your instructor if you are having difficulty in class. If you’re juggling household demands, do you have a partner to whom you can delegate some household tasks? Call a friend to talk about what’s going on or ask for some encouragement. Consider seeking counseling if you need a neutral professional with whom to discuss your concerns. There is no shame in doing so; Counseling has helped many people.
Keep the Prize in Mind
Think of the specific ways in which your life will be improved when you attain that degree. While education is priceless, it also brings some very real benefits. In addition to proving to yourself that you could do it, your new degree may result in higher pay. Also, you will be in a better position to do what you want with your career, and you will be better situated to make the world a better place.
Being a student is guaranteed to come with challenges, but try to think of yourself as bigger and stronger than the trials that come your way. No one said that earning a degree would be easy, but it sure is worth it. Once you earn that degree, it will be yours forever.
Just remember… You GOT this!
About the Author
Michelle Lusson holds a master’s degree in psychology from American Public University. She is an associate member of the American Psychological Association. For the second year, she has been the Vice President of the APUS chapter of Active Minds and has contributed to newsletters on mental health topics. Michelle performs volunteer community outreach for an organization that provides mental health services and has enthusiastically renewed her certification to perform mental health first aid.
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