I'd like to venture a guess and say that I'm not the only person who's already feeling the mounting pressures of 2017. With academic, familial, social, and professional investments and responsibilities it feels nearly impossible to keep up with the fast pace of life while also staying relatively sane.
It doesn't really help, either, to know that the new President is a bigot who has promised to push America backward in its history, repeating and compounding our past mistakes, and dividing citizens when the focus should instead be on collaborative communication and understanding. As powerless as some of us may feel in the face of this reality we now live in, it's important that we remember our collective power as a citizen body, and to do what we can to empower ourselves and others. To let ourselves be beaten down by fear of what the future will bring is to render ourselves ineffective. By doing things to better our lives as well as the lives of those around us, we can spread hope and come together to enact positive change.
This sentiment — the importance of managing stress through proactive measures — is applicable to our daily lives, at the individual level. When I'm organized and know what I have to do in a given day, week, or month, I feel ready to conquer those tasks. When I have no idea what my schedule is, life feels overwhelmingly difficult and I'm left almost debilitated.
At a basic level, I manage my daily tasks using the Apple Calendar app, which is great because all of my appointments are visible and editable across my devices. This is where I keep a record of upcoming doctor's appointments, meetings, social events, and other tasks that I want to be reminded of throughout the day. I also use a Moment planner to manage my school schedule. I love this planner because the dates are blank, which makes it customizable to your needs. I write assignments in a checklist and cross them off as I go, mapping out exam dates and other academic events in the monthly calendars. For long-term planning, I love this calendar that saaareee made, especially the "monthly goals" section on each page. This lets me keep track of major events, as well as other more general goals like "start yoga again," or "go to bed earlier." I also came across this weekly to-do sheet by Homey Oh My, which I'd love to start using. I'm very motivated by checklists — how great is that feeling when you get to cross off one of the dozen things you have to do in a day?
Aside from the more obvious strategies like getting a daily/weekly planner and writing out long-term events on a monthly calendar, there are other things I need to do to stay sane during busy times.
1. Exercise. Even if it feels like a horrible decision waking up at 4am to go to the gym, I always feel amazing afterwards, and ready to tackle the day. I like mixing things up by alternating between seeing my personal trainer to do circuit workouts, going to yoga, joining in on my friend's cycling class, and hiking with friends.
2. Eating well. Eating clean definitely has its benefits. When I eat wholesome meals and snacks I feel very energized and focused. Food has been something I've struggled with for a while, so when I have my eating under control, it's one less thing I have to worry about. That being said, I'm all for food that makes the soul feel good. The occasional ice cream or cookie, or late night pizza, is totally warranted.
3. Time with friends and family. We might say we don't have enough time to socialize when our schedules become overwhelmed, when spending time with the people we love is probably one of the most important things we can do when we're feeling stressed out. Even a phone call a day, a quick coffee break with a family member, or a study session with a friend are greats way to decompress.
Hopefully these tips are of some use to you. I'm not saying that I perfectly follow my own advice at all times, but I do aspire to, because I know that I'm happiest, most motivated, and most productive when I am grounded, healthy, and happy.