HURRICANE HEALTHWATCH: Setting priorities can alleviate college stress

Dear Hurricane,

I never seem to have enough time. While everyone else seems to be enjoying college, all I can do is stress about my next test, my next meeting or when my next paper is due. I know I might have taken on too many responsibilities, but I love all I do on campus. Short of giving up sleep or petitioning for a 36-hour day, what can I do to get everything done and still be able to have fun?

Too Much Work

Dear Too Much Work,

First of all, drop your back pack, sit down and take a deep breath. Time is an issue for everyone, and one of the greatest challenges in college is to learn to manage your day. Learning some time management skills may help you get all of your work done and still have fun.
Begin by setting priorities. Determine your top priorities, activities and schoolwork [projects, papers or tests] that will receive the most attention. Set priorities using the three Rs – requirement, results and reward. What is required of me? What gives the greatest results? What gives the greatest reward? For instance, maybe your favorite class is biology and you are carrying an A. You can probably focus less on the five-point lab that is due at the same time as your 50-point sociology paper. Other tips are as follows:
Plan your days by using a planner or “to-do” lists.
Organize test dates and study hours.
Break big jobs down into smaller, more manageable tasks:
Remove distractions such as TVs, phones, web surfing, etc.
Avoid procrastinating and reward yourself when you finish a task.
Each day, schedule time to relax and for study breaks.
Watch what you tell yourself. If you change your “Isn’t it awful?” to “I’m going to do the best I can,” you’ll greatly reduce exam anxiety.
Even days that go perfectly can still leave us stressed. Stress is natural, normal and even useful. Although stress can be a positive motivational force, too much of it can drive us nuts. So, back to the beginning of my answer: take a DEEP BREATH. Take two! Physiological studies indicate that if you calm the body, you calm the mind.

Also, take the edge off your stress by practicing the general principles of wellness. Eat light healthy meals, get at least six hours of sleep per night and exercise three times per week. Be sure to schedule time to stop at Starbucks, take a run in the Wellness Center or see a movie. Remember, if you don’t calm down and treat yourself well, you won’t be able to do your best. Study hard, but as Van Wilder says: “Try not to take life too seriously – you might not get out alive.”
Need some help? Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Counseling Center [Building 21-R] there is a stress management class that teaches relaxation, meditation and visualization techniques. Use the class as a break in your busy day, and then take those techniques out on campus with you.
The Counseling Center has a variety of other services that can help you with issues dealing with little things to big things. You can check them out at

Peter Maki

Peter Maki is a psychobiology major, member of C.O.P.E. and president of Sigma Chi.

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November 14, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.