Anti-procrastination relieves stress

Everybody loves some serious stress. Right? Students just relish the days when they are so swamped, they can’t concentrate or sleep, which affects their health, both emotionally and physically.

Results from the annually-conducted “American Freshman: National Norms” survey from fall 2010 shows stress levels are rising compared to previous generations. There’s a lot of pressure right now between schoolwork and the rest of our lives but also from the uncertain future.

The economy plays a very big role in rising stress levels. There is a very real and eminent presence of the financial pressures parents are dealing with, and students have their own concerns regarding interest from loans. The average debt, according to the “Project on Student Debt,” for a recent college graduate, totaling over $20,000, looks much larger when coupled with current job prospects.

Stress is high among college students, but it’s spreading to high school students as well. Brian Van Brunt, Western Kentucky University’s counseling director and president of the American College Counseling Association, told the New York Times, “More students are arriving on campus with problems, needing support, and today’s economic factors are putting a lot of extra stress on college students, as they look at their loans and wonder if there will be a career waiting for them on the other side.”

And so of course, when we think of job prospects, we think of resumes. Despite what everyone says about doing the things you love, the importance of a good, fleshed-out resume can’t be down-played.

A resume represents who you are and what you’re like. Whether it’s graduate school or a job you’re applying for, both will have fierce competition and, to win the first round, your resume needs to be strong. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is to take on more activities, and as a result, add more stress to one’s plate.

The concerns listed above only relate to finances. They do not take into account massive piles of homework from difficult courses, the hours students work at their (sometimes multiple) part-time jobs or trying to balance school with time for family and friends.

Factoring in the need for your resume to put on an impressive display, students also have to take on volunteering, internships, research, multiple clubs and organizations, and for athletes, training and all other aspects of playing sports, all while maintaining good grades.

It’s no surprise students are stressed out. I’m stressed out just thinking about it.

All of this leaves no time for students. There’s no time to take a breather. It’s the relaxing activities that are the first to go: exercising, yoga, meditation, downtime with friends, leisurely reading and, unfortunately, sleep.

Even if your brain stops functioning and you do take a break, there’s always that alarm bell going off in the back of your head alerting you to the hundred other things on your to-do list.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way around having a lot on your plate, but there is a way to cope. Start early.

Teacher hands you an assignment due in two weeks? Start it tonight. Exam next Tuesday? Start reviewing now.

Although it seems like a good idea now to put it off a couple of days and actually allow yourself some leisure time, you will eventually regret it.

I know it’s advice we’ve all heard countless times, but it doesn’t make it any less true. We’ve all experienced the regret for not starting things earlier, and it honestly does cut down on all-nighters and all-out panic attacks the night before a huge exam or when a project is due.

And really, who likes all-nighters and panic attacks? I, for one, could do without them.

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