5 Ways To Feel Less Overwhelmed During College

Kaitlin Liston

Have you seen that image going around that says “social life, good grades, enough sleep– choose two”? How true does it feel every time you see it? I would add working out, eat healthily and have free time as well.

As we approach the end of the summer and the start of a new school year, life starts to feel especially chaotic. Calendars fill up quickly with back to school events, projects start to arrive in inboxes and there are so many summer activities to fit in before free time ceases to exist. Emotions and stress are high–it can feel overwhelming.

In the weeks leading up to fall, I have seen so many posts about going back to school and remembering to stay balanced so that you don’t become overwhelmed. This can be a crazy time of year, and it made me realize how universal these feelings are and that it’s a good time to remember what is actually essential. When I was in the fall of my senior year, my dad gave me some advice that put everything into perspective, and I think it’s a great mindset to have when life begins to feel overwhelming.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I went to urgent care for the third time in a week. I had a huge assignment due the next day in my toughest class, and I was almost in hysterics thinking about how I was too sick to finish it. I have struggled off and on with my health for a while, and years later we have still not completely figured out what is wrong. After falling over from a dizzy spell as I attempted to get through the problem set, I was brought to tears. The pressure of my assignment and the exasperation I felt for feeling awful again just got to me, so I called my dad. After making sure I was okay to talk, he said:

“Kaitlin there’s something I want you to remember. You come first. Your health and well being are more important than any assignment or meeting or test. There are glass balls and rubber balls in life. Work, school, clubs, extracurricular activities, etc. are rubber balls: if you drop them, they bounce back. Your health and relationships with family and friends are glass balls: when they drop, they can shatter. Yourself and the people you care about are more important than anything and they can be fragile. Do not forget that.”

Then, like the problem solver he is, he told me to email my TA to get an extension and go back to urgent care.

This advice hit me like a truck because it is true. In the stress of trying to balance everything, our priorities can become skewed. But, we need to remember that our well being and the people we love are the most important in life. This analogy made this so clear to me. In order to keep this mindset, I’ve made a list of five things to keep your priorities in place, and keep your glass balls afloat:


Be Grateful

List three things you’re grateful for every morning.


Monthly Intentions

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Happy August 🍑🌻🧡 Welcoming the month with a fresh list of intentions. This month, I’m focusing on pausing before making habitual actions, releasing passed down trauma, and getting ready for my first solo trip abroad. Share your monthly intentions with me by tagging #LFAintentions so we can share what we want to bring in. ❤ I also have a new playlist up on Spotify, which you can access via the link in my bio. Happy new month! 1. Forgive yourself for holding onto ancestral trauma + wounds passed down. They are not yours to carry. It occurred to me this year that some of my deepest fears and insecurities did not originate with me, but were passed down from generation to generation. I have 0 control over how other people work on themselves- I can only heal my own wounds in this lifetime so I can raise healthy happy kin. 2. Remember that true self love is accepting everything that comes up. For so long I have resisted parts of me that I consider “bad”, “weak”, “vulnerable”, or “not up to par”. I think it’s a journey to embrace these things 🙂 3. Investing in yourself is not overspending. I think this speaks for itself. There’s a big difference between making planned, healthy financial decisions that will better your life and frivolously overspending to fill a void. 4. Pause. Pause before you grab for something. We all have habitual patterns that we do hundreds of times a day- perhaps it's grabbing your phone at the first hint of boredom or logging onto facebook at the first hint of loneliness. Simply pausing before I do these habitual things helps gain control over my actions. 5. EMBRACE WHATEVER COMES UP on my solo trip to Italy later this month. This will be my first time traveling abroad by myself, and I must say, I have a wide array of feelings about it. I’m excited, nervous, scared, and beyond thrilled all at once. I want to welcome all of those emotions to live inside me at once and accept it all. #leefromamerica

A post shared by Lee Tilghman (@leefromamerica) on

Write out intentions for the month like Lee From America, and try to stick to them.


Meal Prep

Meal prepping on a day you have more free time sets you up to have ready to go food, so you don’t feel overwhelmed at the end of the day and allows you to have access to healthier food


Become A Planner

Get a day planner and plan out your schedule. Including free time, exercising and food prep. This will lay out your schedule. Make you feel less overwhelmed and make sure that you have all your needs taken care of.


Be Social

Reach out to family and friends! Even on those crazy weeks where you feel like you don’t have a second to spare call your parents, have coffee with a friend or study with a study group. Those moments are just as important and will leave you feeling refreshed.

Good luck this school year!

You can follow along with my journeys @lilliston on Instagram.

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