Fall is one of the busiest seasons for most of us, whether we are busy at work finishing up year-end tasks, taking midterms, or preparing for the holidays! While #TheDelegator can offer the parent perspective of balancing a fall school schedule, I split my North duties with the full-time job of being a student, and I know that seasons like this can make the holidays pretty stressful.

Hitting the busy season and balancing it with whatever is on your calendar can be overwhelming, to say the least. I have plenty of first-hand experience balancing one plate smoothly for several months, like a full-time job over the summer, then the fall season adds three more to the act and suddenly it feels like my whole world is going to come crashing down. Here are a few things that I remind myself and some of my best coping mechanisms to help you when adding more to an already busy life:

Remind yourself that you’re only human.

I like to work. I like to take too many classes. I am the first to volunteer when someone needs help and I pick up responsibility in general wherever opportunities present themselves. At a certain point, though, I have to step back and consider what is realistic. I am no Wonder Woman and I cannot expect to hold the entire world on my shoulders without hurting my knees in the process. Are you only getting three hours of sleep a night in order to get to 6 am workout classes every day? Are you wearing running shoes to class because you only left yourself 10 minutes of free time for the entire day and you need to be across campus before 3 pm? Stop and slow down. Realize that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day and you cannot do it all, and that is okay.

Learn the word “no” when it comes to filling your free time.

This lesson is quite possibly the hardest for me personally. I love my friends and I love being at everything for everyone, but lately, it has become better for my sanity to not say yes to every single dinner date, every single girls’ night, and every single social engagement. Some nights it is more important to my mental health that I lay down with a good book or a Netflix show for an hour of “me time” rather than spending money and time going out with friends. Understand that nobody will judge you for needing to take time for yourself and that the popular lifestyle is not always the lifestyle for you. When you have very little free time, make sure that you are filling it with the things that make you happy and keep you sane rather than what you think everyone else wants you to do.

Identify the “whys” of your stress

Just when it seems like you’re going to buckle under the pressure, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with a notepad. Write down every single thing that is stressing you out, whether it is something big like financial troubles or something small like you have a load of laundry to do. Then, pick a few of them that you can easily solve and physically cross them off the list. For the larger stresses, rate them in order of which is taking up the most mental energy and then come up with a plan on how to solve it. Can you pay off your credit card bill by eating in for a couple of weeks? Would making an outline for that paper you have due in two weeks make you feel a little bit better? Take a few steps each day to relieve some of that list until it feels more manageable.

Call someone else and ask them how they are doing.

Helping other people with their problems helps you to feel less alone. When I am at a breaking point, I like to go to a friend or a close family member and ask them how they are doing. It serves as a great distraction for a bit and often, as I hear myself giving them advice, I realize exactly what I should be telling myself all along. We don’t often act as therapists for ourselves, but in becoming one for someone else, sometimes we find exactly what we needed all along.

Overall, take things one step at a time, remember that nobody expects you to carry the world alone, and be sure to surround yourself with a squad that helps lift you up during tough transition times!

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