What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed!


Robin Nelson, Contributor

Let’s face it, high school is super stressful. You have eight difficult classes that you balance during the day, and you get hours of homework from all of them. In addition to that you have extracurriculars, your social life, and family life to think about and somehow incorporate in there. Most of the time all this is extremely overwhelming for a typical student. If you are struggling to keep your work load in line, here are some tips to help you out. Making lists or keeping a planner, set realistic goals for each day, and making time for family and friends. 

Organization is key to staying on top of your school work. In my experience, having a planner with me during school is extremely helpful. (Most planners are relatively cheap at stores like Home Goods.) Buying one will be the first step to not getting so overwhelmed with work. There are many ways to organize your classes in your planner. I usually just write down what day is “A” day, what day is “B” day, and then fill in my classes from there. Whenever any assignment is given, I write it as soon as possible so that I don’t forget to get it done. When you have somewhere that you can look that tells you exactly what you need to get done for each class, it really helps you stay on top of things.

While writing things down is a start, it only helps you out so much. Taking on that work load can be daunting. Try to take the work one class at a time. Start with what is due soonest. If two things are due at the same time, start with whichever class you have first. When you take on one thing at a time, you give it all your attention and can get it done faster. If your mind is in a million places saying, “I have to get my Math and English and Chemistry all done by tomorrow morning oh crap what am I gonna do I suck I should just drop out now why am I like this…” it’s super hard to get the assignments done that you’re freaking out about. (Trust me, I know how it goes. I do this about 5000 times a week.) No matter how difficult it is, you HAVE to stop telling yourself that, and instead just get to work. Sitting and staring at your workload is not going to make you any less overwhelmed. This is usually easier said than done. Finding something to calm yourself down so that you can get in the mindset of, “I need to work,” is very helpful. For me, I make a playlist and turn it on while I work. Figuring out something that quickly calms you down at least a little bit will give you a push to get to work. 

Sometimes the number of things you need to get done in a day is so overwhelming, it’s just flat out unrealistic. You do not want to tell yourself to get an unrealistic number of things done in one day. That will throw you into a deep feeling of panic, which will result in nothing getting done and becoming more overwhelmed than before. This is especially important to remember with big term projects or things of that nature. Typically, those projects are given with a due date that seems so far away. Because of that, students don’t do anything with it until the night before, and then are scrambling to finish. This is a great way to get yourself overwhelmed very quickly. Instead of doing that, once a term project (or any large project with a faraway due date) is assigned, do little bits at a time. Use that large amount of time you’re given to your advantage. If you do little bits at a time, it’s much less overwhelming to get a project done. With a normal assignment, use your list, choose a few of the most important things or the most time sensitive things, and get those done. When you finish what you set out to accomplish that day, it boosts your mood. It makes you feel like you have some control, and in turn you get more done. Telling yourself to do all 500 essays, math worksheets, and canvas assignments in one night is not healthy. When you don’t finish it all, it makes you feel like you’ll never get it all done. This is why realistic goals are key. Be honest with yourself and tell yourself to get done what you know you can each day. Go back to taking things one step at a time, and you’ll accomplish much more in a day than you thought you could!  

Being overwhelmed isn’t always just from school. It comes from balancing school, homework, extracurricular activities, friends, and family. Pressure from all these areas just seems to pile up all the time. The best way to keep everything in order, in my experience, is to write out your schedule. Know what time you have any extra things, like dance, sports, music, etc. Give yourself time to do homework. Don’t let those things rule your life by using the organization skills I mentioned earlier. If you have school and extras organized, you can find time to hang out with your friends and spend time with your family. Try scheduling a specific time during the week where you do something with your friends. The main point I’m trying to get across is if you sit down and take a minute to organize your time, you’ll be able to see exactly what you need to get done. Then you’ll have time for your loved ones because you’ll be on top of your work and know exactly how much time you have for different activities. 

Everybody gets overwhelmed in high school at some point, and everyone knows how horrible it feels. Getting a planner, making lists, and being in control of your schedule are all ways I try to stay organized. Basically, do not procrastinate your work. Remember, if you feel overwhelmed, take a step back for a minute and do something to calm you down. High school is rough, but it’s a little more enjoyable when we aren’t feeling so overwhelmed.