One of the most important components of stress management and a busy schedule is prioritizing.
A lot of the anxious, perfectionist teens and college students I work with feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to get done during the busy school year.
Rather than letting all of those tasks feel insurmountable, you can break down what needs to be done and when. Figure out the steps needed to reach your goal, and keep those steps really specific and time-sensitive (such as, "I need to research 10 articles for this upcoming history paper by Tuesday," vs. just "I need to start work on my history paper.")
Productivity is crucial, but so is restorative time.
It's also important for teens and college students to build in lots of self-regulation and coping time. So, schedule it in.
Along with breaking down homework into manageable, tasks, add 5 or 10 minutes of a guided meditation, walk outside, or listening to calm music.
Practice calm thoughts and calm actions.
If you're interested in yoga, try going to classes once or twice a week. Regular relaxation skills help manage stress overall, which is why it is so important to be proactive about stress management rather than just waiting to use a skill when you're already totally stressed out.
Remember that midterms are temporary, so rather than letting yourself get all the way overwhelmed, try and take a step back for perspective. Recognize any anxiety spirals (ie missing 5 points probably isn’t going to lead to you flunking out of college) and figure out if there’s anything else you can say that feels more helpful.
And if you’re totally overwhelmed, and feeling totally anxious, talk with an anxiety specialist. Sometimes just hearing about your anxiety out loud helps it feel less overwhelming.
Kelsey Torgerson, MSW, LCSW is a top-rated anxiety specialist in St. Louis, working with kids, teens and college students to help them manage their overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She works in Clayton with students throughout Creve Couer, Town and Country, Ladue, University City, Midtown, and Webster Groves. You can reach her through her brand new contact page - and if you’re a college student who gets a little anxious about reaching out, she’s happy to first talk with a parent instead.