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Saying “No” to Stress with Priorities Check-In

We know it’s hard to successfully navigate family, work, politics, health, chores, and studying. Life seems to be going too fast, and to be honest, it’s not slowing down any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you h...

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We know it’s hard to successfully navigate family, work, politics, health, chores, and studying. Life seems to be going too fast, and to be honest, it’s not slowing down any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the stress, eat comfort food for every meal, and give up on all the fun extra things that make life awesome.


Stress — and more importantly, how you deal with it — all come down to you. Even a simple mindset shift can help you view stressors in a new light. Think about all the advice you’ve heard about saying “I get to …” instead of “I have to …”. And it doesn’t stop there. You have the power to remove stress from your life, too.


Don’t believe us? Let’s breakdown 4 strategies you can use to reduce stress levels and set priorities in your life.


Rule 1: Set Aside all the “Nice to Haves” for Later


No doubt about it, college stress is on a whole new level. You’ve got essays, and tests, and pop quizzes, group assignments, speeches … you name it. And it’s all happening at once.  There’s no “one and done”: rule for how to handle it all, but it can be helpful to remember to simply put first things first.

Ask yourself: “will what I’m about to do have an immediate effect on my most important goal right now?” Think about this in terms of short-term goals. You have dishes to do, laundry to fold, and an essay to write. Your biggest short-term goal is to get an A in your class for the semester. Which task helps you get there?

That doesn’t mean that the dishes won’t ever get done, or that the laundry will sit there forever. But always, first things first.


Rule 2. If it Works Without the Change, Then Let the Change Wait


Multi-tasking can seem like the easy way out of pressure, but try to avoid it if you’re really serious about reducing stress and increasing efficiency.

We all get distracted by a few new tasks here and there. The reality is that you may not be able to stop all these tasks from coming at you, especially as a college student. You may find yourself shuttling between school work and family tasks, only halfway showing up for either one.

Why not try out a more efficient way to deal with this situation? You can reduce stress, manage your time well and still remain fully present in each moment. Here’s the simple secret: as soon as a new assignment is given to you, listen to the instructions carefully and determine how much time you need to complete it. Then ask yourself if it’s really a priority that day or if it can be done tomorrow or next. Those dishes are annoying (and frankly, kinda gross) but leaving them one more day won’t be the end of the world.

On the other hand, leaving your assignment until tomorrow could cause serious issues. You just never know what might pop up tomorrow, right?


Rule 3: Focusing 100% on One Assignment is the Fastest Way to Complete It


Managing your time is a huge part of prioritizing your life, too. This means allotting a time block to complete certain tasks. Let’s say you’ve decided to complete that essay assignment that’s due in a couple of days. You sit down with a goal to get it done, then find that you spend three hours digging through research papers, bouncing around on Facebook, and staring at the ceiling. Or, you get distracted in 15 minutes and walk away.

Instead, get focused by setting a timer. 30 minutes will do. Set a timer, open your document, and get to work. Knowing that you’re in a time crunch, you’ll likely get more done in 30 minutes than you would in 3 hours, and you can walk away satisfied with your progress (even if you don’t finish it 100%).


Rule 4: Ask for Help When You Need It


Being productive and being stressed don’t need to go hand-in-hand. Ask for help when you need it:


  • task your kids with household chores while you study
  • ask a neighbor to pull in trash cans or check mail while you’re working late
  • use a delivery service for food from a local restaurant while you write an essay
  • hire help for everyday tasks while you enjoy time with family


Just be sure to ask for help from the right person. Having the wrong person, or someone who’s not up to the task, can end up causing more work for you down the line.


If you want to reduce stress and stay productive, focus on prioritizing what’s really important. If you want more help, join the Back to School Divas Facebook group for motivation and inspiration from women just like you!


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