By Abbie Hebron
Distinguished Young Woman of Missouri for 2014
It is getting pretty late, and you have been studying for a test, finalizing a project, or practicing a presentation for over three hours now. You can’t seem to focus, and nothing seems to be helping- not the soda, coffee, or candy. You try to relax and watch some TV, but you know that the test, project, or presentation is not leaving your mind; it will be stuck there until you know you are finished. This is a familiar situation, isn’t it?
Stress is something we normally associate with school, especially during this time of year when final exams are creeping up. As seems to be the “norm” by most girls, we get very stressed out over everything! (or maybe that is just me…) There are some things that I have learned over the past 4 or 5 years that might help you while dealing with school, a sticky situation, or any other time you feel overwhelmed by stress.
First, I have to say that studying and preparing for you schoolwork is very important! It is always good, though, to take a break. If you’re hungry, get something to eat. (Notice I say something, because if you are like me you really would rather just eat the whole pantry.) If you are tired, take a nap. After studying for a while, I actually recommend a nap. For me, sleeping helps the information soak into my head. Yes, I know that sounds a little odd, but your brain needs time to process the material you are cramming into it. So after a nice long study session, naps are a must! Whatever helps you unwind (reading, dancing, crafting), do it! Just take some time to let your brain relax. I promise, when you start studying again, it will be a lot easier to focus and retain the material.
Another way I keep my stress levels low is by staying organized. During a hectic and stressful week, I make lots of lists. Anyone who knows me, knows that I always have my calendar with me along with colored pens and post-it notes. When organizing my week, I always start with a clean piece of loose leaf; I write all of the things that need to get done- projects, papers, tests, extracurricular activities, or any tasks (literally everything). Then, I go down the list and write which day I would like each task done. This gives me a timeline, which is extremely helpful with planning when to do what. Next, I take out my calendar and write down the task on the day(s) I want to complete it (sometimes you need to break them into sections if they are large). Now I have a schedule of what I need to do and when I need to do it all. The most rewarding part is completing a task and marking it off. There is no better feeling then marking a solid “x” on top of the dash next to an item on my calendar! Now, I get this trait from my mom, but some people do not benefit from this. I would try it, but if it does not work try to do something else to keep yourself organized. For example, maybe setting an alarm on your phone with a different thing to do every couple hours would be beneficial. Or maybe making a stack of books, flashcards, or outlines in order of the topics you need to study is better. Anything that works for your learning style or preference is great!
Another thing I have learned is to not worry over the little things. This tip can apply to all kinds of situations, not just school. There are some things in life you just cannot control, and that is perfectly fine. All you perfectionists out there, this is going to be hard for you to accept (believe me), but I promise once you let go of the petty things it makes life so much more enjoyable and manageable. While studying for a test, I have no clue what material is actually going to be on there, so why worry about my grade before even taking the test? All I can do is work hard to understand all that I possibly can. The key to this? Knowing that you can control only so much. Doing your best is all you can possibly do, so do not stress about the things you cannot change or fix.
Lastly, always try to be confident and relaxed when you take a test, give a presentation, or whatever the case might be. If you go into the classroom with a smile on your face, knowing that you have prepared all you can, you will be so much more relaxed while taking the test or presenting. This is definitely a hard one for me, because I like to cram as much as I can before going in to take a final exam, but I have found that doing that only makes me more anxious and nervous. Instead, I listen to music or talk with a friend before a test. It really helps me forget about the situation and calm myself. This, in turn, helps me stay focused while actually taking the test.
I hope these few tips help you stay organized, remain relaxed, and keep focused in these stressful weeks that are approaching!
I found this great quote about stress that I must share, because I agree whole-heartedly.
“The key to winning is poise under stress.” ~Paul Brown
Stay confident and tame the Abominable Stress Man!
Abbie Hebron is a college freshman at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri majoring in Dietetics. Originally from O’Fallon, Missouri, Abbie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Missouri for 2014. Learn more about Abbie here!