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Dealing with Overwhelm in College

I have got to be one of the most easily overwhelmed people on the planet. Trying to plan more than one thing in a day instantly sends a wave of overwhelm through my body. Even if I’m just trying to plan two simple things like doing my laundry and seeing a movie with someone. For some reason, in my mind doing multiple things in one day is too difficult and not at all feasible.

I’ve definitely gotten much better with this though, especially since starting college last year. College can be extremely overwhelming. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It can get scary real quick with all the assignments, projects, tests and due dates piled on top of clubs and your social life and work hours. It can get rough man.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Dealing with Overwhelm in College: 7 ways to deal with the insane amount of stress | College with Caitlyn

I mean, it’s definitely something I’ve been struggling with a lot since the fall semester started – I mean I had a mental breakdown the first week of school because I didn’t feel organized enough. (I don’t wanna talk about it.) But there are tricks I use to keep my stress levels down to a minimum, so I thought I’d share my tips on how to cope with overwhelm in college.

Wednesdays are when I feel the most overwhelmed, because that’s when I have the most going on. I have class 11:00-11:50, work from 12:30-4:30, class from 4:50-6:05 and then sand volleyball games around 7:00. Not including whatever I decide to do the few hours between when I wake up and go to my first class, or what I have to do after volleyball. Basically I’m just go, go, go on Wednesday and it burns me out.

When I realized that I can’t be the only one having trouble coping with the busy college lifestyle, I decided to write a whole post with my tips for dealing with overwhelm. So let’s do this thing:

Know that you aren’t the only one

Feeling like you are the only person going through something makes it a thousand times harder, so don’t let yourself feel that way! There is not a single college student I know that just breezes their way through it. Like I said, college is hard, even for us high school valedictorians.

Basically what I’m trying to get across is that when you’re feeling super stressed and alone, just try to remember that every other college student it feeling the same way.

Also, listening to A Little too Much by Shawn Mendes always helps me. #Bae

Write everything down

Write down your schedule. Write down your to-do lists. Write down your homework. Write down everything you want to remember. Basically, use a planner, keep to-do lists, utilize the notes app on your phone and journal. Staying organized plays such a huge aspect in keeping overwhelm under control, so find a system that works for you and use it.

Related: How I Stay Organized in College

The second part is something that not everyone is always willing to try, but something that everyone can benefit from: journaling.

Between walking to classes, getting ready in the morning, what I’m thinking about before bed, where my mind wanders while doing menial tasks in class or at work, I think a lot of things and it can be really hard to keep them all straight. Journaling literally saves my racing mind. I have no idea how I ever went so long without doing it. Just writing down what happened that day really helps, because it removes those thoughts from my brain and allows the more important ones to have room to breathe.

I also find that writing down my thoughts really helps me feel more calm and relaxed. I used to journal almost daily, but now I’m just trying to do it weekly. I definitely felt more at ease when I did it every day though, but that’s not feasible with my busy schedule right now.

Get moving!

Exercising is a great way to deal with stress. It lets out all of your negative emotions in a healthy way, so long as you aren’t overdoing it. Personally, I like to run or lift weights when I’m really upset because then I can just zone out.

Walking is also another way to get your body moving! Plus, it’s not too difficult to get those steps in on campus since you have to walk to classes anyways. One of my favorite times of the day is when I have to walk to or from work because it feels nice to just be outside and not sitting on my bum.

So find what makes you feel good and do that! It doesn’t have to be anything intense like run 10 miles, it could literally just be taking the scenic route on your walk back from class.

Related: How to get Motivated to Hit the Gym

Reconnect with nature

Ever since coming to college my appreciation for nature has grown tremendously. I cherish any time I get to spend outside – even if it’s 90 degrees before factoring in humidity or below freezing and snowing. There’s just something so calming about being in nature. Even if that nature is just a grassy hill with three trees next to your dorm.

This kinda connects with my last tip, because one way I really like to do this is from my walks to work. Besides walking to work though, I have three other ways I like to enjoy the outdoors: watching the sunset, going hiking and doing homework outside.

I’m a professional sunset seeker. This past Saturday I wasn’t having the best day, but after watching a magical post-storm sunset I felt so much more grounded and ready to tackle life.

hiking Boone county cliffs

Hiking is something I only just got into this summer, but now I want to do it every week. I’d do it every day if I could. There’s just something so relaxing about being in the middle of nowhere with no distractions, and feeling like a part of something bigger than just school. I could write a whole post about hiking honestly.

Related: 6 Reasons Why You Should be Spending More Time Outside

One of my favorite things about going hiking is that I literally have no signal whatsoever. Don’t freak out!! This is a good thing because it helps me escape from my fast-paced life for a couple hours and recharge my brain. Plus, then I’m not hearing the thoughts of everyone I follow on social media; the only thoughts I’m hearing are mine and those from whom I’m with.

Doing homework outside is really such a great thing to do. Not only will you get some fresh air and vitamin D, but then you aren’t in your dorm all day. I don’t know about you, but when I spend all day in my dorm I feel cramped, claustrophobic and like I have way too much going on. That’s why I take any chance I get to do homework outside.

homework outside

This is actually a photo from last Monday of me typing out this post. Blogception?

Don’t forget to smile!

This one’s a biggie. You may have heard this before, but I’m going to reiterate it anyway. Smiling even when you’re not happy has been scientifically proven to lift your mood, so show those pearly whites! *Cue My Shiny Teeth and Me by Chip Skylark*

dog snapchat filter

Take care of yourself

When my life is moving so fast that I think I’m going to keel over, I like to slow down and have a me night. Sometimes it’s something small and I just do a face mask or paint my nails, and other nights I make dinner, then jump in bed and watch Netflix all night.

Find what makes you happy, and then when you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, make sure to take time to do something just for you. It could be something simple like buying those boots you’ve been wanting for months, getting yourself Starbucks or taking yourself out to dinner. Just do something for you.

Remind yourself daily how awesome you are

I stole this from Katie Dalebout’s book Let it Out, and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Basically all you have to do it set up reminders on your phone with encouraging statements that go off at certain times to give yourself a little pick-me-up. It’s like a present for your future self.

Every time my phone buzzes with one of my reminders I feel significantly lighter, more confident and overall just in a better state of mind. Here is an example of one that I have set to go off every Monday before my least favorite class:

daily reminder | dealing with college overwhelm

Another thing you could do is write quotes on sticky notes and stick them in random places for you to find later. Maybe put them on random pages in textbooks or books you plan to read. You could also just stick them in plain view: like on your desk or mirror. I know a popular thing to do is put a variation of, “You’re beautiful,” on a mirror.

So those are all of my tips! I hope you found at least one of these helpful, and that your semester doesn’t get too crazy. If you ever do feel way too overwhelmed, take a step back and just breathe. You got this! I believe in you.

Also, the lovely Jasmin from Macarons and Mascara recently shared her own tips for beating college overwhelm. Check them out here!

Which tip was your favorite? Do you practice any of these? How do you beat college overwhelm? Let me know in the comments below!

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