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How To Manage Stress Effectively

Posted by on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in Academics, Blair School of Music, Exams, Finals, General Information, Learning Style.

It’s that time of year again. Finals are in a few weeks, professors are holding midterm after midterm, and upcoming recitals and concerts require hours of rehearsal. There are papers to write, applications to submit, and juries to practice for. At times like this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. As such, I thought it’d be helpful to share how I personally manage my stress:

1. Write it all down:

First, make a list of everything that you feel is contributing to your stress – don’t be afraid to go overboard with this. The key here is to get it out of your head and put it on paper, so you can physically see what you’re dealing with.

2. Decide what you can(and can’t) control:

After you make this list, determine which of these items are things you can actually control; we tend to worry a lot about external circumstances or situations. However, once you realize that there is no point in stressing about things out of your control, it is much easier to redirect your energy in a more positive manner.

3. Make an action plan:

It’s so important to actually make a plan to get started. I used to be a big fan of to-do lists, but found that much of the tasks I put on my list were left undone at the end of the day. To maximize productivity, I recommend making a detailed schedule, where you can delegate a time and place to each task. This concrete plan pushes you to take action, and makes it that much harder to say “I think I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

4. Don’t be afraid to say no:

This step is easier said than done – it’s especially hard for Vandy students to say no; we love to take on more and more commitments. While this involvement is admirable, it’s also important to prioritize yourself. If you really don’t have the time to play for someone’s recital or volunteer at an extra event this week, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes, saying yes to yourself means saying no to others. Only you know how much you have on your plate and what you are capable of, and it is up to you to decide how much more you can take on.

5. Exercise!

When you’re stressed and busy, it can be very easy to grab a frozen meal at Munchie and skip your workout. However, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and keep you happy and motivated. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, I suggest sneaking in a quick workout during a study break. Fresh air and physical activity go a long way in maintaining your sanity.

6. One thing at a time:

And finally, relax. Don’t try to do 5 different things at once. While you may think you’re being efficient, multitasking is not as effective as simple, deep work. If you just focus on knocking out one thing at a time, the satisfaction of achievement will help you get through the rest of your list. And when it’s all said and done, don’t forget to treat yourself. You deserve it.

If you have any tips or suggestions on how to handle stress, please leave them in the comments section below! I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, if you have any questions about Blair or life at Vanderbilt, feel free to shoot me an email at

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