Did you know that eight in ten college students say they have frequently experienced stress in their daily lives over the past three months?

Stress is the number one factor that affects academic performance. But between deadlines, revision classes and everything else in between, it can become really difficult to keep on top of your personal health.

The period from October to December is seen as the last push for a lot of people. But for school and college students, this is seen as the first quarter of a new year, as they start a brand new chapter of their lives. It’s one of the most difficult and trying times of the year – and there’s a very thin line between handling it and becoming overwhelmed.

How can a survival guide help me?

There’s a unique pressure that’s put on students – a self-care survival guide can help make sure that you’re achieving your goals, whilst still taking care of yourself. This allows you to make sure you’re working in a way that fulfills you and that makes you feel good, and also makes sure you’re doing your work in a productive and meaningful way. But the key here is that you’re still making time to look after your mind, body, and soul.

A survival guide helps you do your own work on your own terms, and look after yourself in the process. You just decide what your elements of self-care are going to be.

If you’re struggling with your mental and physical health right now, this survival guide is just what you need. This will help you get the new school year off to a great start, in a way that works the best for you. You will be able to practice self-care effectively, which will bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Below are some of the biggest lessons you can use over these next few months to survive in the best way possible, whilst enjoying your work and your life too.

Step 1: Define and set your goals

Doing too much work just for the sake of it won’t get you anywhere fast. It’s through looking after yourself that you can create your best work possible. By having a clear direction, set goals and a vision for where you want to be, you’ll be more passionate and motivated to keep moving forward. Here are some questions for you to explore:

  • What’s the one thing I want to achieve for myself during this quarter?
  • Why do I want this to happen? What’s going to help me strive to achieve this goal?
  • What do I want to prioritize in terms of my work and my life? How can I make this happen?
  • How can I put myself first during this survival season?
  • How do I want to feel as I go through these next few months?

Step 2: Be in charge of your workload

Practicing self-care successfully means you’ve got to be focused, organized and disciplined with your workload. One of the main things that leads to burnout and mental fatigue is feeling overwhelmed by your work. When you’ve got deadlines and a million other things to deal with, you can feel like you don’t know where to start. Staying in control of your workload is key. Here’s what you need to do:

Write everything down

Everything. Everything for your school work, everything for your side projects, everything for your personal life. Ask yourself – what is everything I need and want to do this month? The secret here is to be very selective and prioritize. To truly practice self-care, you need to be brave enough to focus on the most important things – and remove or realign the rest.

Plan by the week, the day and the hour

The great thing about being a student is that you’ve got structure and flexibility. They’re two things that really allow you to make big things happen. The more time you have to take care of yourself, the more time you’ll have to work towards those big dreams of yours.

By giving each part of your day a focus, you’re ticking all the boxes and accomplishing things professionally and personally. Batching tasks, setting time aside for yourself and spreading out your workload in an efficient way, means you’ll reach those bigger goals even quicker. If you have the ability to prioritize and break your goals down into stepping stones, that’s how you’ll succeed.

If you go off track, get back to your plan or take a break

It’s so easy to get distracted. Let’s face it – you might plan to get loads of work done one afternoon, but when it comes to it, you just don’t feel like it. Once you’ve got your plan in place you can go back to it and adapt it however you see fit. Say you’ve got self-care scheduled in for Thursday evening but you actually feel like you need it on Wednesday – simply swap your schedule around.

Step 3: Make each day enjoyable

Just because you’re under so much pressure doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself, and this is where self-care really comes into play. Nothing can lead to burnout and overwhelm like feeling stuck, bored or uninspired with your work. If this is you right now, here are some things to try to get you started with self-care:

  • Change your scenery. Do your work from a different environment to break up your routine, or go for a walk in between classes.
  • Make sure there’s time in your routine just for you, both in the morning and in the evening.
  • Set yourself things to look forward to each week, whether it’s your favorite hobby, a catch up with your best friend, a shopping date with your mom – the possibilities are endless.
  • Stop working at a certain time every day and stick to it – no phones, no emails, nothing.
  • Don’t give into takeouts when it gets rough. Fill your body with good food that fuels you.

And these are some questions for you to explore:

  • What are my must-haves for a happy, positive and productive day?
  • How can I make my days flow so that I have enough time for self-care?
  • How do I want to feel at the end of each day? How can I fit this into my routine?

Step 4: Recognize burnout and what to do when it starts creeping up

Here’s the thing – even if you become the ultimate pro at practicing self-care, you’re still bound to be tired and stretched when you’re working towards your big goals. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel completely exhausted at the end of a day – you’re putting your energy into things that matter.

What’s important to understand is the difference between tiredness and the levels of tiredness that start to affect you in a negative way. It’s OK to need a break when you’ve been under so much pressure. It’s OK to sacrifice things while you’re working towards where you want to be. That’s just the reality of balancing your career with self-care.

But to successfully survive during this season, you need to take care of yourself and form a routine where you thrive. So when you feel like it’s getting too much, ask yourself:

  • Can I take a step away from all this so I can recover mentally?
  • Do I think that my routine needs to be altered so I can perform better?
  • How can I build more self-care into my daily routine?
  • Am I burning the candle at both ends or am I showing myself enough respect to accomplish my work on my own terms?

One thing to bear in mind is that the survival season isn’t worth it if you’re compromising your mental and physical health in the process.

You can achieve your goals on your own terms – never be afraid to go your own way. Experiment with your routine, adjust your plan and work in a way that’s best for you. Being focused, healthy and happy is what’s most important, and that comes from looking after yourself.

Remember – nothing will run right unless you do.

Behind-the-Scenes-+A+Journey+down+My+Career+Path+so+FarMeet The Guest Blogger, Holly Sutton:

“I’m an online marketer and digital marketing freelance writer who helps people get a breakthrough in their life, career or blog. I also lead an active community called Blogging Breakthrough, which is home to hundreds of hard-working, passionate women. Cups of tea make me happy and I believe funny cat videos should be a part of every single day.”

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