There is no handbook on what to do when you feel overwhelmed. Everyone has times when they've felt stressed. Chances are, at some time in their life, you have experienced the suffocating feeling that you have taken on way more responsibility than you can handle. This can leave you feeling paralyzed like a deer in the headlights.There’s no one who can relate to how agonizing the feeling of being overwhelmed more than a college student, regardless of if you're fresh out of high school, or a returning nontraditional student.
At some point, anyone pursuing a college education is going to experience what it truly means to feel overwhelmed- especially during the first week of classes! Each semester, college students are expected to quickly adapt to a totally new day-to-day routine that will require you to become accustomed to new faces and new expectations and responsibilities that can seem impossible to maintain.
After grasping everything that will be expected of you during the course of a single semester, you may find yourself feeling full of anxiety, self-doubt, and asking, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Fortunately, there are some helpful strategies for when you feel overwhelmed. Even though they can’t magically make your stress and anxiety vanish into thin air, these tips can help you stop feeling overwhelmed and reevaluate your stress.
- Don't stretch yourself too thin: If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by your obligations to your school work, don’t overextend yourself even further by taking on any additional outside commitments that you might have to back out of later.
- Stay social: Don’t use feeling overwhelmed as an excuse to isolate, and purposely avoid your friends and family. Spending time with loved ones can be a positive distraction from your stress and help you feel refreshed and motivated.
- No excuses: Don’t allow feeling overwhelmed to become an emotional crutch that can compel you to justify the practice of procrastination.
- Break it down: Separate bigger tasks into smaller tasks. This can help a monumental task seem less daunting and help you see progress as you complete the smaller pieces of it.
- Find your balance: Strive for balance, not perfection. Find a happy medium between living up to your day-to-day responsibilities and some much needed down time.
- Talk it out: Discuss any negative feelings you’re experiencing with someone you trust. Talking with your loved ones about your stress can help relieve some of your anxiety, and feel less alone.
- Be your own person: Don’t get lost in comparing yourself to other students. You may feel pressured by someone else's perceived success, but you may not see how stressed they are on the inside, too.
- Fuel your body: Eat healthier meals on a regular basis, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and in general just take good care of yourself. Your mental and physical health depend on each other, so it's important to take care of both.
- Cut out bad habits: Recognize and avoid compulsive bad habits like overeating, overspending, and overindulging as a means to escape from your negative feelings.
- Don't give up: Feeling overwhelmed doesn't last forever, so don't let it push you to make any impulsive decisions you might later regret- like dropping a class or leaving school before you’ve given yourself a fair chance to find out what you’re truly capable of accomplishing.