The right amount of stress can keep us motivated, but too much of it can take a toll on our well-being. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Here’s a quick guide to getting things under control.

Time management

One source of stress can be feeling like there’s just too much to get done and not enough time to do it all. Start by writing it all out—every upcoming task, big dates (like when you’re heading to CU Boulder, when you’ll need to complete your insurance selection)—and plan your time backwards, prioritizing based on when things are happening.

Jot down exactly when everything will get done and commit to the schedule. Preparing in advance may not create more time, but it can help you to visualize exactly where all your time is and how to best use it. Ready to get started? Download the ultimate to-do list and organizer app, Wunderlist, free on iOS and Android.

Keeping up with the basics

Our minds and bodies work best when we take care of them. Set reminders on your phone to drink a full water bottle every few hours, prioritize eating regular, healthy meals, plan for at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and don’t be afraid to work in a 20-minute power nap here and there too. Especially before starting in a new environment, having these habits in place will keep your stress levels under control.

We like using Habitbull, a free app for tracking good habits that also rewards you for meeting goals. Or, if sleep is a bigger obstacle, try out Relax Melodies for soothing sounds to shut your mind off.

Take mental breaks

Research has shown that working endlessly can be more harmful than helpful. Instead, make an effort to schedule in self-care. Regularly set aside an hour to enjoy time with friends and family, hobbies, or exploring new interests. Especially if the to-do list starts to feel overwhelming, know when it’s time to set it aside for a short while to catch your breath and come back later.  

Checking expectations

Stress feeds off of unrealistic expectations and pressure. It’s important that we check in with ourselves periodically about where our expectations are coming from, and if we’re adding on pressure to be perfect or achieve a lofty goal that may be hindering our ability to actually perform well. Talking to a friend or journaling about this pressure can offer some perspective and help us let go of things that may not be worth our mental energy.

Relaxing and recuperating

Finding ways to channel our stress keeps us balanced enough to handle the next stressor that comes our way. Some of our favorite self-care activities include watching an episode on Netflix, getting in some physical activity, spending time in nature, and having coffee with a friend. For meditation, we especially like using the apps Breathe2Relax and Stop, Breathe, and Think.