Wondering how you can steer clear of the stress zone? Here are a few tips (learned the hard way by yours truly) to help you keep your feet on the balance beam.
Prioritize. People often ask me: How can I be involved in all the awesome activities college offers without burning out? And I have to tell them: You can't. No one can participate in everything all at once. My advice is to spread your activities over your entire career, rather than try to cram all of them into one semester. This will mean learning to say no to some attractive options. You should also consider trying out a potential activity before making a long-term commitment to it.
Plan ahead. College life often caused me to question what was controlling my life—my schedule or me. My days were repeatedly filled with "wrenches." For example, whenever I'd sleep through my alarm clock, a wrench was thrown into my schedule. Those wrenches, I found, usually caused a chain reaction. By the time I'd get to bed on days like that, I felt like I'd spent my waking hours four steps behind and 15 minutes late. The solution to this dilemma is to plan ahead. Assume that unexpected wrenches will be thrown your way. Allow yourself an extra hour to work on that paper or fifteen more minutes to walk to class.
Aim for balance. College is about getting an education, but it is also about learning to take care of yourself. This means looking out for more than your report card. In my case, I had to learn how to eat properly, get enough sleep, stay afloat financially, maintain a social life, work hard in school, hold a part-time job, and daily strengthen my relationship with God—all at once, all by myself. Some days, I would divert all of my attention to one thing (like eating as many bags of Doritos as possible) while openly ignoring other responsibilities. Try not to focus on any one activity to the exclusion of the others.
Pray. Ask God to guide you as you choose your activities. It's easy to be self-centered when it comes to what we want to do. Prayer helps us turn our attention toward God and his will for us, which will bring more lasting—and rewarding—benefits.