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danielscareers-stressedWith finals quickly approaching, chances are you might be feeling stressed. In fact, college can be a stressful time for anyone attempting to balance the demands of school, work, family, friends and the pressure to make plans for after graduation. Prolonged stress can be detrimental to our health and can impede our ability to perform as our ideal selves. The good news is you are not alone in this struggle and there are strategies you can implement to try to keep stress levels as low as possible.

First and foremost, you need to remember to take care of you. If you are not treating yourself well it is unlikely you are going to be able to produce your best work and be ultimately successful in developing and maintaining relationships, which are a huge part of college and the job search process. Your physical, cognitive and emotional health are all very important. Sleep, diet and physical activity play a large role in this in addition to taking some time for yourself every day. No matter how packed your schedule may seem, you can always create a few minutes to do something good for yourself, whether it be taking some deep breaths, walking around campus or finding a place to sit and stretch. The important thing is to incorporate something that you enjoy into your daily routine, no matter how small or how silly it might seem at first.

Another way to take care of yourself and reduce stress is to prioritize and create boundaries for yourself. When looking at your “to do” list, decide what is a “should” and what is a “must” and focus the majority of your energy on what must get done. While it is common to want to go above and beyond and please everyone, sometimes we have to set limits for ourselves in order to take care of what needs to be done immediately and what can be done when realistically assessing our resources. Break your day down into smaller, more manageable components and take it a step at a time. Forgive yourself if you need to let go of some of the “should” items and be aware of any negative self-talk that may occur during these times. It is okay to say “no” within reason.

During times of stress, we may be compelled to cut down on socializing to make time for other priorities. However, social support can be very beneficial during difficult times and chances are a lot of your peers are going through or have gone through something similar. You can socialize smart: manage your obligatory social ties while making time to cultivate your most important relationships. Perhaps try studying in groups or plan a fun activity with friends to reward yourself after the hard work is over.

You are the most important catalyst for your own success and you have a lot of staff, faculty and peers who are rooting for you! Make choices today that your present and future self will be grateful for. Also, hang in there! School may seem all encompassing at times but it is ultimately a small snap shot in the adventure of life.

Melena Postolowski facilitates career development and coaching for MBA and MS students, including job search strategy, résumé and cover letter writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation. Postolowski also works with companies to promote hiring of students, designs and manages student programs and events, facilitates career-management workshops and is the program lead for the Executive Mentor Program.

Update: Melena is no longer with Daniels.